“Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye…it also includes the inner pictures of the soul”

                                                                                                                                    ~Edward Munch

The article I have written for you today is the first tool (and free) to utilize for stress reduction…being in nature.

Spending time in nature has been shown to lower cortisol levels in our bodies. If you remember from yesterday’s article, cortisol is a stress hormone secreted by our adrenal glands when our body is ready to go into fight or flight mode. This hormone gets our body to be on alert of possible danger and gets us ready to take action if needed.

 If our bodies are in a constant state of fight or flight mode, which studies show most of us are in this mode 85% of the time, then our bodies are constantly secreting this stress hormone, cortisol. Over time, our levels of cortisol become chronically elevated because of constant triggering of this cortisol release. Elevated cortisol levels can be an underlying source of chronic inflammation, hormonal imbalances, adrenal exhaustion, weight gain, and immune suppression.

Something as simple as being in nature can actually have a powerful impact on our immune health and can lower cortisol levels. The sights, sounds, smells, and experiences of being in nature can have a soothing and calming effect on our nervous systems. This calming effect can lower blood pressure, slowing our heartrate, normalizing and slowing down our breathing, and several other key stress markers that are associated with the fight or flight response. Being in nature can bring a balance state within our body, mind, and soul.

What is it about nature that draws us in, that captures our soul, that stills our busy minds? Like the quote above says so well, we can see the beautiful aspects of nature around us and by seeing this true raw beauty, it invites us to go within ourselves, to inner reflect, to slow down the business and chatter of our minds and just be still…aaaahhhhh….stillness. Just saying that word makes me feel more relaxed.

Lets’ picture this together…what does nature mean to you? Nature to me makes me think of all of my 5 senses being fully alive…

 from the delicious tastes and textures of the colorful foods that we are blessed by from nature, the juiciness and sweetness of ripe fruits, to the savory flavors of the herbs and spices, to the sourness and tartness of cherries and other rich colored berries, to the bitterness of specific plants and roots, to the saltiness of ripe olives…

 to the feeling of touching softness from an animal’s fur, wispy feathers from a baby bird , or the delicate petals of a flower, to the roughness of tree bark, or feeling the cool ground under your feet, feeling the warm sun on your skin, to the feeling of rain lightly falling on you as you take a walk…

 the mesmerizing fragrant heavenly aromas from these same flowers to the woodsy scents of the trees in the forest and the smell outside after a rainstorm, to the smell of the ocean…

to the sound of the trees blowing in the wind or the water quietly flowing from a stream, the waves crashing from the ocean, the birds singing sweet melodies in our ears, or the rooster crowing, the cry of a lamb, hearing the gentle falling of the autumn leaves slowly dancing in the wind to the ground…

 to the amazing sight of a colorful and promises of a rainbow seen after a storm, seeing the buds blossom from the trees and flowers after a long cold winter, to the moon shining on the water at night, the heavens opening up after a long dark night for a glorious morning sunrise, to the rich deep glow of a romantic sunset, the snow quietly falling, seeing the tranquil still reflection in the water from whatever is majestically standing above it…

I could go on and on about how beautiful and healing being in nature is ….do all of these things I just mentioned sound familiar to you, do you feel a little calmer just thinking about all of these too?

These blessings we have from nature are meant to still our minds so we have a chance to go within to the deep part of our souls that get forgotten when we are in the business and rush of life. Somehow when we are in this atmosphere of nature’s peace and tranquility, the stressors of our lives somehow loosen its grip on us…we can let go and just be still and have some time and the desire to notice the beauty surrounding us, this is where healing begins…

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere”   ~Vincent Van Gogh

I love this quote by Van Gogh! How true this is, if we can take some time to enjoy and love the nature around us daily, then we can find beauty everywhere! Enjoying nature is free, we just have to make the decision to do it, to get outside even for a short walk, and to notice that what surrounds us is here to heal us…body, mind, and soul. That we can choose to have a heart of gratitude for the beauty everywhere around us!

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in”   ~John Muir

So I invite all of you to go out and get some fresh air, feel the sunshine on your face, and notice the sounds, smells, sights, experiences, and tastes of nature…and to notice all the beauty that surrounds each one of us daily…go within yourself and enjoy the stillness!

With Peace, Beauty, and Love,

Rhonda