Despite the colder temperatures these past couple of weeks, here on Vancouver Island we are truly fortunate to be seeing signs of Spring. There is an excitement that I feel at this time of year, for I know the season is slowly turning from winter to spring. From an early age I’ve experienced immense peace come upon me when I’m immersed in the natural world. It’s like my cells come alive!
The changes from winter to spring are subtle: a little more light, fresh, sweet, crisp air, the ground has the tips of bulbs showing through and the fairy looking Snow Drop carpets the side of most pathways.
All of these little things that Mother Nature reveals to us are only noticed when we sloooow down. There is something timeless to the saying “stop and smell the roses”. It really is easy to do so in mid-July when there is a multitude of roses and flowers to smell and the summer sunshine warms our body. However, I invite you to join me in slowing down, being mindful and using our senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, sound) to experience the gifts that Mother Nature bestows upon us each day and during each season.
Let Nature take root within you today by noticing the little things and letting yourself be present, whether you’re on land or water. Like a seed in fertile ground Nature sprouts and grows with no effort from our part. There is a whole world that’s alive under the water, at our feet and high above our heads.
Studies have shown that our physiological make up changes when we’re experiencing the sounds and smells of Nature. Our senses are woken up gently and powerfully. Spending up to 90 minutes in nature can reduce negative thoughts as well as activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex area of the brain that is responsible for mood disorders and negative thoughts. (1)
When asked about nature's benefits, holistic neurologist Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D. says that it can be therapeutic for depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, and headaches. "Whether we are leaning against an isolated tree in our neighborhood or fully immersed in natural landscapes on a backpacking trip, our brains are able to return to a more primitive rhythm as it connects with the angle of light from the sun and calms with the physiological release of the happy neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. It does not even have to be a long exposure. Even 20 minutes per day can have this effect. Improving mood has a positive effect on stress levels and morbidity and also creates happier communities, which in turn builds collegiality among neighbors,"(2) she says.
1. Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature
2. The Science Behind How Nature Will Jump-Start Your Healthy New Year