Have you ever noticed after a couple of days of rain or snow people on the street seem to be less stressed — smiling more, interacting more, and making eye contact. What is it about being outdoors—especially on a nice day?
There’s Power Out There!
Mounting research shows the profound effect that fresh air, plants, trees and natural outdoor elements have on our health and well-being.
Real Relaxation Isn’t Found on the Couch
Some people think relaxation and stress reduction consists of lying back in an easy chair and watching TV, or having a cocktail with friends, or perhaps taking in a movie. All this may seem and even feel relaxing—but there is a big difference between this kind of repose and the ability to reach much deeper and revitalizing state of relaxation. Regular exercise, with attention to your mental and physical fitness—especially in the outdoors, surrounded by nature’s calming effects—can bring you deep, restorative relaxation. This restorative relaxation is the immune system boosting, stress-reducing kind—the kind you’ll never get on the couch, or even at the gym.
You can try the following exercises and techniques when you find yourself feeling tense, anxious, and stressed. They can be especially useful at the outset of a workout, or during your post-workout cool-down. Or, when you’re trying to shake off the effects of a busy day.
Reach Out and Touch Something
When was the last time you touched nature? Ran your hand across a tree limb, or stuck your nose in a flower? Make time for moments in your workout when you can make direct physical contact with the natural world around you. It will only deepen the connection you’re establishing with your environment.
“The Redwood’s Got Your Back”
In my group of friends, we have this saying, “The redwoods have got your back.” When one of us is feeling stressed, working through a problem, or simply feeling out of sorts, we go into the forest for fresh air, exercise and the solitude that helps us to work through it. Sometimes when you’re “in it,” it’s tough to see the forest through the trees and remember the many gifts nature has to offer—clarity, serenity, peace and inspiration—so we’ll use this one phrase as a reminder — “Redwoods got your back.” That’s all it takes. We head for the forest.