Why I’m obsessed with mini escapes…and the healing power of nature
Grounding, Earthing, Forest Bathing…are any of these terms familiar to you?
If not, you need to read this post:
In some ways, I really think I live in the best century – iPhones, computers, the internet, apps that allow me to get whatever I want (be it food, transport, clothes – pretty much anything), with a couple of taps on a screen and a credit card. If you look at what the world was like less than 100 years ago, then you’ll agree with me that both you and I are pretty lucky.
However, sometimes all of these 21st century “necessities”, make me so over-connected that I can’t switch off. My nervous system has lost that ability to help me relax…and a little bit of grounding, earthing, forest bathing or a mini escape is what helps reset my body and keep me sane.
Before I tell you more about these important activities…here’s a little bit of science for you:
Your autonomic nervous system has two divisions – your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and your parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). They are equally important, but function with two very different purposes.
Your SNS is your “fight or flight” response – it helps you either fight or run away from situations that present themselves to you. It’s the part of your nervous system that fires when you’re driving and the car behind you sits on their horn – it’s really important when there’s a real danger lurking, however more often than not, it switches on multiple times a day when the threat is not that real.
While your PSNS is your “rest and digest” response – it helps your body relax and also stimulates your digestion after you eat. A simple way to activate your PSNS is to take a deep breath in, and a long breath out – the longer you exhale, the more you are sending the message to your PSNS that everything is okay and that it can switch on and do it’s thing.
Many people have a very active sympathetic nervous system, and a parasympathetic nervous system which just goes along for the ride, a lot of the time.
Learning to relax and do things which activate your parasympathetic nervous system, does wonders for your body and mind…and one way to do this is to get out in nature.
Grounding/Earthing: “a practice that connects you energetically with the earth’s core and is a foundation for vibrant health” (1)
Forest bathing or shinrin-yoku: “a Japanese practice based on being in the presence of trees, which has been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system and improve overall feelings of well-being” (2)
How can you do this in your everyday life?
- Surround yourself with trees
- Take your shoes off and go for a walk on real grass or in the sand at the beach
- Drive out of the city for the day and explore a local park or botanical gardens (leave your phone at home or in the car!)
…whatever your choice of getting in touch with nature, ensuring you do this regularly has been scientifically proven to improve your health.
My personal favourite way to do this?
I love waking up early on a Sunday, packing a picnic and setting off on a drive somewhere about an hour out of Sydney and just relaxing by the beach or taking a short walk through the bush.
If you can’t afford a full day out of your busy schedule, taking a scenic walk to or home from work, through a local park and just taking a few minutes to appreciate your natural surroundings will do wonders in activating your parasympathetic nervous system – and ultimately, you’ll feel better, away from your phone and other distractions…even if it’s just for a short time.
On that note, I’m off to put my feet in the sand at the beach!
To a weekend of earthing, grounding & forest bathing,