Mother Nature can typically substitute Western Medicine and has the ability to help us cope with our high-demanding societal pressures. Being outdoors has positive psychological and physiological benefits. After all, aren't we all made up of the same elements? Let's nourish our bodies and souls with Mother Nature!
It is amazing to hear how most people can scroll through Facebook or Instagram and be heavily impacted by the latest articles, images, and research concerning global warming, deforestation, factory-farm cruelty, or overconsumption, yet they will then bury those reactions and turn their head the other way. If something evokes a physical, mental and emotional reaction within you, shouldn't that be enough to do what you personally can to invoke change? Unfortunately the answer is not usually. As humans, we are more motivated to change negative things in our lives that we can directly see in front of us than change indirect consequences of our actions. Sometimes it feels so overwhelming to look at this world for what it is in its current state. There are so many massive problems right now and oftentimes the future of this planet just seems to be so far out of our reach to help. Globally we are seeing drastic changes in Mother Nature due to human impacts. Does this mean that we give up? Does this mean that we each should not care what our personal carbon footprint is? No. John F. Kennedy said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” Can you imagine how different this world might be if we each took responsibility for our own actions? If we all held ourselves accountable for being part of the global problems? There are so many little things that we can change within our home and in our daily lives that can make a gigantic impact on this Earth! Nobody is asking you to give up all things that you love or to change who you are as a whole but can we each begin the process of being sustainable consumers and environmentalists? Recently, a dear friend of mine was criticized for presenting herself as an “image” of a hippie to the public because of all the things she is passionate about and does in her daily life to try to help the greater good, yet doesn’t drive a VW Van or have armpit hair. I had to laugh at such a ludicrous critique because a modern-day hippie is reflected more by their environment-friendly, tree-hugging advocacy, rather than through their political and societal idealisms and excessive drug usage, like in the 1960’s. Modern-day hippies are mostly vegetarians and simply focus on a love for the environment, all living creatures, and a healthy self and planet. They are sometimes called granola children, or somebody that enjoys “tie-dye, granola, and peace". Well, I am proud to be a granola child then and I truly believe that we need so many more of us in this world if we are going to start to see our global destruction pace slow down! Let’s look at ways that you can make a difference in your own life and work towards being a granola child :) Every little thing you do will make a difference so don’t listen to the judgmental haters, they are likely uneducated, ignorant or swimming in their own guilt! Be strong enough to stand proud and remember that your changes will even be helping those ignorant haters that judge you… now THAT is a true hippie!
Gradually work on checking off as many things as you can on this SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE list below…
NO more bottled water! Like… ever.
Stop using paper towels and tissues! Single-use products go directly into the trash, purchase re-usable paper towels and kerchiefs to wash
Focus on wasting less (anything that goes into the trash)… Keurig pods! Plasticware! Straws! Paper plates! Feminine products!
Minimize your meat consumption or go completely meat-free! Educate yourself on why this is essential for our future planet!
Use LED lighting or CFL bulbs
Stop purchasing and using plastics in your kitchen/home
Use extra layers of clothes and blankets instead of turning up the heat
Reusable grocery bags all the way!
Use as much natural light as possible via windows
Put a RECYCLE bin directly next to your trash cans
Hang your wet clothes on a drying line/rack when possible
Time your showers, especially for kids
Grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables indoors or outdoors
Purchase as much as you can from local organic farmers
Turn off your devices at night and remember all unused outlets need to be unplugged
Water-saving shower heads! Regulated hot-water tanks!
Organic fertilizers, laundry detergents, soaps, household cleaners, body products, sunscreens, etc! ALL things toxic to you and/or our water supply!
Shop second-hand! Clothing, antique stores, consignment, etc.
Go paperless on everything you possibly can! Reject the “free” newspapers that are delivered in your driveway by a simple phone call!
Repurpose. Recycle. Upcycle. Reuse. Reduce.
Make your own products!
Stop breeding animals and adopt pets in need! Heck, children are in this same category so at least consider this option!
Sign up for local food delivery options to minimize waste and to support local farmers and ranchers
Boycott products that endanger wildlife (including clothing, leathers, chemicals, etc)
Drive as green as you can! Purchase vehicles with eco-friendly features and do your best to bicycle or walk
Are you aware that doctors these days are actually prescribing "outdoor therapy" to compete with Xanax? There was a fascinating article published in National Geographic in June 2017 that discussed how doctors in South Dakota are now routinely writing "park prescriptions" versus painkiller and antidepressant prescriptions. Patients are being instructed to take a full day to spend in any state park or recreation area. Similar prescriptions and programs are occurring across the U.S. such as Massachusetts' Docs in the Park and New Mexico's Prescription Trails. Stanford researchers found that walking in nature yields measurable mental benefits that can reduce the risk of depression. As urbanization and disconnection from nature have heavily increased, so have numerous mental disorders.
HIKING: The other day I stumbled on an interesting Lifehack article by Marilyn Rogers that mentioned how doctors claim that outdoor hiking can change our brains. It said that being in an environment with less distractions and noise can decrease not only stress but obsessive, negative thoughts. Disconnecting from technology is scientifically proven to increase creativity and problem solving. This is based off the fact that urban areas and technology all demand our attention and inevitably disturb us from focusing. Hiking can be a strong form of medicine simply because it reduces mental fatigue, soothes our minds, and assists our brains to think creatively. Hiking outdoors can burn anywhere from 400-700 calories per hour so the exercise component of hiking naturally boosts brainpower and cognitive ability.
According to WebMD, hiking is now being prescribed by doctors and calling it "ecotherapy" to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition, the article mentioned that hiking can also be a huge benefit for those that suffer with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), including children. Of course those of us parents that fully understand how challenging it can be to have children that suffer with this disorder, understand that constant distractions, impulsiveness, and a lack of focus are all part of this disorder. A study was conducted by researchers Frances E. Kuo, PhD and Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD, that found that exposing children with ADHD to “green outdoor activities” reduced inattention and impulsivity. Even adding houseplants and window benches to your child's room can assist with ADHD symptoms, on those days that heading out on a nature hike or on a trip to a nearby park are just not possible.
Have you ever wondered why our bodies respond so positively to Mother Nature's gifts? I have often paid close attention to the physical changes that I can feel when I am outdoors, gardening, sunbathing, clean-eating, recreating, consuming teas or Chinese herbs, meditating, etc. Why is that? Well, this sparked me and I wanted to travel back to middle-school science to remind myself on what exactly the human body is made up of that directly comes from Mother Nature, in order to feel such synchrony. Did you know that 98% of the human body is composed of only five elements? Oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and calcium make up 98% of our body whereas 2% of traces of additional elements complete our composition. Personally, what fascinates me most here is the connection that the whole universe is only made up of five elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Space and Air. Ultimately, the human body contains these same five elements: Earth (bones/muscles), Water (blood), Air (breath), Fire (heat), and Space (emptiness within).
There's this wonderful organization called Healing Forests that put together a neat little video that I watched a couple of months ago. It explained the restorative power of nature and our body's physical responses when exposed to Mother Nature. It mentioned that we constantly overuse our brains these days in our hectic lives, especially in urban areas. We are in a world of distractions and desires that no longer allow our brain to receive the rest that it deserves and needs to have to rejuvenate. To cope with such stress on the brain, massive amounts of people seek relief through alcohol, drugs, prescriptions, and expensive therapies. When all along, the root cause of many problems and issues is a lack of nature and serenity... nature being the ultimate source to our health. The video stated, "Reconnecting with nature is like resetting your brain".
Nobody, including myself, is saying that if you take a walk in the forest, your depression will be automatically healed! No, we are simply saying that Mother Nature gives you the opportunity to listen to yourself, reduce stress, melt anxiety, seek clarity and comfort, and to use her as a stepping stone in the path to your healing.
EARTHING: Speaking of stepping stones and walking paths.... did you know that walking barefoot on soil, grass or sand is called "earthing"? There is actual scientific evidence that proves that earthing has some remarkable health advantages, such as increasing antioxidants, reducing inflammation and even improving sleep. Why? It's a simple connection to our bodies and the natural charge (electrons) of the Earth. A study was conducted in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health that explained that when our bodies draw in the Earth's electrons in any form, there can be health benefits. Additional studies found in Dr. Isaac Eliaz's research on Earthing has shown that it can increase the surface charge of red blood cells, it can help regulate both the endocrine and nervous systems, and it can benefit skin conductivity, moderate heart rate variability, improve glucose regulation, reduce stress and boost immunity. Since the Earth has a greater negative charge than our human bodies, we end up absorbing electrons from it which can be one of the most potent antioxidants we know of according to the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Ultimately, get outside everybody! Take off your shoes and feel the Earth's magic. Let your kids run around in the grass barefoot or take them to the beach.
Earthing Has Incredible Benefits! Go Barefoot Ya'll!
Photo By: Anomilee
Our culture is absolutely obsessed with anti-aging, right? It seems that the latest and greatest products, protein shakes, surgeries, and pills are constantly being advertised to promise us anti-aging miracles. What if we just stopped for a minute to connect the dots and realize that all along we have had the best solution... Mother Nature. Nature has the most gentle yet powerful anti-aging remedies that work with our genetic makeup. So first and foremost, free radicals are the enemy... these are the substances that damage our body's formation. We can naturally produce free radicals from normal metabolism as well as our body's immune system working to create free radicals in order to neutralize bacteria/viruses. However, let's look at the true culprits; pesticides/insecticides, air pollutants, petroleum products, OTC drugs, fungicides, radiation, excessive sun, foods that are either fried, charbroiled, or BBQ'd, coffee, sugar, chemicals in our water/air, and low and behold hormones. All of these speed up the aging process. Now let's take a look at what can help slow this age processing down.
FOREST BATHING: We are all aware of the long list of health benefits that we receive from exercise and how the mind and body are naturally connected. It's scientifically proven that aerobic exercise increases the hippocampal volume in older women (the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory). But have you ever considered the health benefits that we receive from just being amongst trees or plants? Have you ever connected longevity to your environment? There is this interesting activity in Japan known as Shinrinyoku, or "forest bathing", where humans can visit a forest for relaxation and/or recreation while breathing in volatile substances, called phytoncides (wood essential oils), which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds derived from trees. (Li, 2009) This is essentially a natural way of receiving aromatherapy. A study of forest bathing was composed of men and women that participated in a 3-day trip to a forest that included short walks each day in the forest. Blood and urine samples were taken during the study and the results suggested that monthly trips to nature could help provide maintenance levels of cells that fight cancer development. Just breathing in antimicrobial compounds that we can find in tree essential oils can increase relaxation, lessen anxiety and anger, improve stress management, and increase overall vitality.
SUN KISSES: Another thought to consider with connecting aging to nature is the fact that we typically become less active and tend to stay indoors more as time goes on and we advance in age. The immediate thought I have is how we then lose our Vitamin D sourced from the sun. From getting multiple lectures from my primary doctor (I am lactose-intolerant), I am fully aware that risks of cancer, obesity, depression, and mood swings all come with Vitamin D deficiency. I am also aware that many people struggle with absorbing supplemental Vitamin D (like me) and have to get it effectively through the sun only. Obviously you have to limit your sun intake to avoid causing sunburns and skin cancer but remember that you can also eat an anti-inflammatory, high antioxidant diet as well that will help increase your body's sun tolerance. Consuming coconut oil every day can assist you with this! Regardless of what you choose to do for yourself, just consider the connection of Vitamin D with your overall health and how your body absorbs it.
Age is only a number, a healthy mind and body equate to longevity.
Photo By: Anomilee