Honor the Earth: Time in Nature

According to Shakespeare, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”  Reading that quote makes me want to immerse myself in nature, yet as I type this sentence, I realize this is my seventh hour of screen-time today.  How can we increase our connection to nature and why should we?

Benefits of connecting to nature

Perhaps our ancestors had few alternatives to spending time in nature, but the benefits were and still are significant.  Research shows that connecting to nature can have a positive impact on our psychological state as well as our cardiovascular, immune, nervous, and hormonal systems.  Time in nature reduces our heart rate, pulse, and blood pressure, and improves our heart rate variability.  It can also increase our natural killer cell activity and decrease our need for stress hormones.

Most research on the benefits of nature have focused on its psychological value and the list is extensive.  Nature improves our concentration, life satisfaction, emotional functioning, self-esteem, self-regulation, social competency, vitality, and freedom to be our authentic selves.  Not surprisingly, nature increases our ability to experience awe, a connection to the greater whole, and to a sense of spirituality.

Additional research that found spending time in nature may improve our social well-being and kindness and empathy towards others echoes Shakespeare’s quote that nature makes the whole world kin. 

 

 

Increased benefits of going barefoot

Removing our shoes to connect with grass, soil, gravel, stone or sand may increase the benefits of nature.  Our body’s electrical field naturally seeks to reconnect to the earth every 60 to 90 seconds.  Consistent with that phenomenon, Menigos et al. (2020), found that a direct bodily connection to the earth, also known as “grounding”, calms our physiology and reduces inflammation, pain, and stress, while improving our energy, sleep, and well-being.

How can we connect to nature?

Most of the research shows that the simple act of walking in a park or other green space for at least 120 minutes a week, or roughly 17 minutes a day, reaps significant benefits.  How we connect with nature is limited only by imagination and accessibility.  In addition to walking in a park and breathing in the increased concentration of oxygen, connecting our feet, hands and other body parts directly to the earth can reap benefits.  Some ideas include:

  • Garden with bare hands
  • Lay on the Earth
  • Hug a tree
  • Sleep on the ground while camping
  • Forage
  • Soak up the sun anywhere outside!

Permaculture: Serving mother earth

Indigenous peoples’ symbiotic relationship with the earth is based upon the premise that Mother Earth gives her bounty to us, and in return we honor her.  Indigenous practices provide an essential view of the earth that has been translated by Rosemary Morrow and others into Permaculture Principles.  I apply 4 of the 12 principles to the ideas of spending time in nature and honoring the earth in this brief video.

Permaculture (Indigenous) Principles and Spending Time in Nature Video

 

 

Perhaps creating your own symbiotic relationship to the earth by spending time appreciating its beauty while enjoying the health benefits is a place to start!

The Self-Care Solutions newsletter allows you to personalize your approach to health and wellbeing.  It offers you choices.  Safe choices.  Evidence-based choices. The articles allow you to try on different options and see what works for you. Think of each as an invitation. While not a substitute for care by your medical team, we’re here to support you in your quest for wellbeing!

 

Interested in Hero’s Journey Coaching?  Contact me at ruthannrusso@gmail.com or visit https://ruthannrusso.com/be-coached/

Reference Links

Flourishing in nature: A review of the benefits of connecting with nature and its application as a wellbeing intervention

A review of the current evidence of the benefits derived from forest bathing

Integrative and lifestyle medicine strategies should include Earthing (grounding): Review of research evidence and clinical observations

Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing

Integrative and lifestyle medicine strategies should include Earthing (grounding): Review of research evidence and clinical observations

Essence of Permaculture FREE DOWNLOAD

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Dr. Ruthann Russo

I love assisting people on their hero’s journey towards self-transformation. A passion which is born comes partly from personal experience – I view my own life as a series of self-transformations. I have 20+ years of education, training and experience, including being the CEO and founder of two health technology start-ups and global wellness consultant to Fortune 100 corporations.

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