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Feeling Stressed? Get Outside!

Published in For the Health of It, Weight Management Author: Lezli Tuttle, LSW, Behavior Coach, Lifestyle Health

Technology is coming out with television screens that look more and more realistic but what’s more realistic and high definition than a walk in the woods? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time inside.

The benefits of spending time in nature are multi-faceted and are advantageous for the entire family. Many scientific studies have been done that demonstrate the benefits of spending time in nature, which include relaxation and rejuvenation.

Take the scenic route

Get up early or stay up late and watch as the colors of the sun bathe the horizon in vibrant colors.

Walk in the woods

Taking a walk on a wooded path or near the water is another way to rejuvenate the senses. While you’re there….

  • Listen to the music
    Our natural environment has its own soundtrack. How often have you stopped to listen? Take some time to appreciate the “shh” of the aspens, the lapping of the water against the shoreline or cascading over the rocks, the chatter of the critters who make the outdoors their home.
  • Engage your senses
    Take a seat somewhere out on your walk and experience nature using all of your senses. Pay attention to how the earth feels beneath your feet. Do your muscles feel differently when you walk in nature versus when you walk on a sidewalk? Feel the breeze around you. Is it cooling or warm? What do you hear? Take a drink of water and feel its path as it enters your body. Breathe in the air and pay attention to how your lungs fill and how your shoulders relax. Be still and see if any critters show themselves to you.The Japanese have a practice called Shinrin-Yoku or “forest bathing” which uses the healing powers of the forest and has been shown to have positive benefits on overall health and wellness by using mindfulness and meditation techniques.
  • Strike a pose
    Take your yoga practice outside. This can help expand your practice and increase your feel-good hormones.
  • Take advantage of natural light
    If you have some reading you need to do, take the books outside. Not only will it spare your eyes from the blue light or harsh florescent lights, being in nature can increase your concentration and recall. You also spare yourself the distraction of others.