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Summertime is here. Are you still glued to a phone, computer, tablet or other screen for most of the day? It’s time to take a break, unplug and head outdoors.
Connecting with nature is healing. Ever heard of the phrase “forest bathing?” It means simply being in nature, and it’s getting a lot of attention because of the mental and physical health benefits.
Studies have shown that taking time to unplug and be outside, with no goal beyond just experiencing the world around you, has a positive effect on your well-being. Spending time in nature can improve memory, lower stress hormones, and reduce feelings of depression or anxiety, among other perks.
Being in nature can help clear your head and bring you into the present moment, and is a great way to de-stress and relax.
How do you leave your home and office behind and take advantage of your natural surroundings? The American Heart Association offers some ways to relax in nature, including:
When you’re outdoors, focus on your senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Studies show that engaging the five senses can help promote feelings of calm and relaxation.
Gaze at the vast sky, the greens of the trees, the tranquil water, or vast mountain tops. Listen to the birds singing or seagulls calling, the breeze through the trees, or the sound of a babbling brook or waves on the shore.
Breathe in the fresh air and smell the fragrance of the ocean, lake or forest. Some plants release immunity-boosting compounds into the air, and being in the sunlight is thought to increase levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin. Feel the sand between your toes, place your hands on the trunk of a tree, or dip your fingers in a stream.
If you must, schedule time to spend outdoors on your calendar, and leave your screens behind when you go. Once in nature, let your mind relax, take a deep, calming breath and enjoy better health.
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