I find it ironic that I can go for an hour walk in the woods and not come across a human soul, but I can drive by a Dunkin Donuts and see a line of cars wrapped around the building.
Sometimes on a gorgeous weekend day we will drive south and stop at random parks and beaches to walk and be outside. Usually we don’t see too many other like-minded explorers. But head to a mall or most any store and voilà– masses of humans.
It never ceases to blow my mind. It’s pretty nice to have these nature walks to myself but it’s also kind of sad.
It seems that almost everyone I meet is overwhelmed with work/home/family responsibilities to the point where feeling stressed-out dominates feelings of peace and happiness.
Instinctively I think we all know it isn’t healthy to live that way.
If you are feeling too much stress, what can you do about it? It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. It can be as simple as taking a walk in the woods and I strongly recommend you give it a shot. Let me introduce you to Forest Bathing:
Forest Bathing is otherwise known as Shinrin-yoku in Japanese. It means walking through the woods opening up all of your senses.
Shinrin-yoku is regularly practiced in Japan as therapy for relaxation and stress management. There’s actually been research on this showing that it can lower levels of cortisol (stress hormones), reduce blood pressure and boost the immune system. Getting out in the woods and away from screens and sitting (and yes, a break from people too) can do wonders for your well-being and outlook on life. It can center and ground you. Change your perspective when everything feels too crazy. Calm you. Clear your head. Ignite ideas. Reconnect with nature. After all, we are a part of nature although modern society often makes us forget this.
Sometimes I walk in the woods to think, sometimes I go to not think, and often I end up doing a combination of the two.
Stop for a moment and consider how quickly the days and years go by. This is your life. Your one life here on Earth. As an old teacher of mine used to always say: Life is not a dress rehearsal!
Are you living the way you want to be living? What really matters to you and what is important? And why aren’t these things a more significant part of how you live?
How you handle stress has a huge effect on your health. You can eat a perfect diet (whatever that is) but lead a stressful life and your health will suffer. Chronic stress leads to inflammation in the body and is associated with diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obesity just to name a few health issues. Health is so much more than just eating well and exercising. Are you taking care of yourself from all angles?
You don’t have to walk through a forest to get the benefits of being in nature. Walking on the beach or (my favorite) the Cliff Walk for example is just as therapeutic. Even sitting on a swing in your yard on a sunny spring day (like this weekend is predicting 🙂 ) hearing the birds, gazing at the trees and sky, breathing in fresh air and feeling the warmth on your skin can relieve stress. Make time for these things. Engage your senses and be in the moment. Think about what you could change about your current lifestyle to fit in some daily relaxation and be in nature. Small changes can have a tremendous impact.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~From The Summer Day by Mary Oliver