For those of us that have full time jobs and we are required to be indoors whether it be in an office environment or place of work, we often spend most of our time indoors and sometimes don’t even see the outside let alone breathe in the air.
This is very common to many of us and often in the winter months we don’t even see daylight. We know at a very basic level that this goes completely against our nature and it doesn’t make us feel good.
Many people even experience a drop in mood and increase of anxiety due to a lack of sunlight, let alone exposure to nature. There have been many studies and the data reveals that just a twenty-minute nature experience was enough to significantly reduce cortisol levels.
But if you spent a little more time immersed in a nature experience, 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking, cortisol levels dropped at their greatest rate. After that, additional de-stressing benefits continue to add up but at a slower rate.
Fresh air regulates serotonin – Levels of oxygen in your brain are tied to levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that affects your mood, appetite, memory, social behaviour, and other processes. Too much serotonin and you can become irritable and tense, but too little serotonin and you can become depressed. Breathing fresh air can therefore help regulate your levels of serotonin and promote happiness and well-being.
Breathing in the great outdoors – Research shows that breathing techniques have the ability to dampen the production of stress hormones as well as train your body’s reaction to stressful situations. Rapid breathing engages your body’s sympathetic nervous system (or, your “fight or flight” response), which is activated by stress and works to energize the body. Slow, deep breathing—the kind encouraged by the great outdoors—stimulates the body’s parasympathetic reaction, which calms us down. By stopping to smell the roses, you can put the brake on your body’s natural stress response and chill out a bit.
Sunlight and melatonin – Getting a doctor-recommended dose of sunlight can also help you feel refreshed and relaxed by helping regulate your body’s melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that controls your body’s internal clock (basically, it makes you sleepy). The melatonin-producing part of your brain (the pineal gland) is directly affected by access to light—it remains inactive during the day and is switched on when darkness sets in. The right amount of melatonin ensures you have a good night’s sleep—and wake feeling rejuvenated.
If all else fails, get a dog and get connected to yourself, your dog and nature!
- How can you spend more time in nature?
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