These days, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and anxious. Many factors are beyond our control, but nature offers us an abundance of gifts that are free and can be found right outside your door. They not only provide comfort and peace of mind, they also improve overall wellness and help to boost our immunity. While there’s no magic pill or quick fix, Vitamin N(ature) is a very powerful resource with a variety of benefits.
During this time of isolation and social distancing, many are turning to technology and increasing screen time, binge-watching to pass the time, or worse, scrolling mindlessly through social media which often elevates anxiety and spreads misinformation. A recent study conducted by psychiatric unit researchers revealed that time in nature reduces feelings of isolation, promotes calm, and lifts patients’ mood. As the pandemic hits an all-time high in the U.S., grant yourself permission to be still. Take this time to turn inward and reconnect to yourself, to the earth.
Put down the phone, turn off the TV and tune into nature.
There are two things we can do that will pay dividends in strengthening our immune systems: reduce stress and get ample sleep. An abundance of scientific research indicates that being in nature helps lower blood pressure and stress hormones, reduces nervous system hyperactivity, enhances immune system function, increases self-esteem, reduces anxiety and improves overall mood. Spending time in nature deeply enhances wellbeing, creativity, happiness; it also provides tremendous immune-boosting qualities like reducing anxiety and increasing sleep duration.
Trees and plants offer incredible healing properties. In fact, they produce volatile organic compounds called phytoncides, their natural defense against disease, bacteria and parasites. We reap the rewards when we breathe in these organic compounds, which boost our natural killer (NK) cells – a type of white blood cell that helps boost immunity.
Our bodies also need adequate Vitamin D to produce the antimicrobial proteins that kill viruses and bacteria. We produce it naturally when the sun’s ultraviolet rays penetrate our skin, initiating a chain reaction converting a form of cholesterol into Vitamin D. By spending time outside, we soak up the sunshine and produce more Vitamin D which could help lower our risk for respiratory illness.
Next week, I’ll provide you with a sensory meditation to do outside or near a window to help improve overall wellbeing.
About the Author
Kelly Bruce is a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide/Trail Consultant and the founder of Natural Wanders. She leads forest bathing and nature therapy walks in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Subscribe to her e-newsletter for more inspiration from nature and to learn about upcoming walks, workshops and retreats. Each Wednesday, she’ll provide inspiration to help you wander into wellness, naturally. In the meantime, follow along on Instagram and Facebook.
Welcome! I'm Kelly Bruce, a certified nature and forest therapy guide. Join me each week for Wander and Wellness Wednesdays, where I provide inspiration to help you improve your overall wellbeing, naturally!