Connecting with nature offers some surprising benefits to your physical wellbeing including lowering your blood pressure, boosting your immune system and helping you to recover from illness and trauma more quickly. In 2016, a meta study concluded that the research available ‘shows a significant effect of shinrin yoku on reduction of blood pressure.’ Lower blood pressure keeps your heart healthy, preventing cardiovascular problems such as angina, strokes and heart attacks.
The trees and plants in the forest emit substances called phytoncides – think of them as wood essential oils – which have been found to boost the immune system. Studies by Qing Li, a Japanese scientist who has been conducting shinrin yoku research for many years, showed that Forest Bathing increases the NK, or Natural Killer cell activity in people, with at least some of this effect coming from phytoncides. The effects were seen to last for about 30 days and, as these NK cells help to fight disease, the study concludes that regular Forest Bathing trips may have a preventative effect on the development of diseases. The powerful effect of nature on patients recovering from illness is now widely accepted. Many studies have found conclusive evidence that exposure to nature speeds up convalescence. Even a natural view from a hospital window makes a difference, as
demonstrated in well-known studies by Dr Roger Ulrich, which paved the way for many innovations, such as hospital gardens and even hospital forests. Our increasing disconnect from nature and our decreasing levels of physical activity are beginning to have a profound effect on the nation’s physical health. Time spent in the forest is time well-spent and Forest Bathing combines the physical and mental wellbeing benefits of being in the forest with the spiritual benefits of meditation. The best way we can teach our kids to put down the tech and get outside is to DO IT OURSELVES.
Lead by example as a teach, instructor or parent. Get outside and bring your children with you. A strong bond is formed between humans when we connect in nature, which is why camping has become so popular. We are stuck inside our homes, schools, or workplaces so much that humans are craving that feeling of living in nature, our more natural way to live. Many of the things we do nowadays is to mimic our hunter gatherer ancestors – exercise (to mimic hunting, collecting food, lifting heavy object etc.), social gatherings to simulate telling stories around a fire and much more.
We have talked about the benefits of cold exposure before. Cold showers and cold lake/ocean plunges are a great way to
boost the immune system, build “brown fat” stores (which are actually a good thing) and plus it just so darn good once
it’s done with you feel euphoric. Your challenge this month is to do an outdoor walk in your neighbourhood WITHOUT A
JACKET! Don’t do it in the rain or snow, but pick any day that is cool/cold and walk the block with no jacket or gloves. Move briskly enough that you don’t need it. Unless we challenge ourselves in a safe way, and this is completely safe, we will
never know what we are really capable of.
Write thank you notes
Thank you notes don’t have to involve forcing your kids to write letters to everyone after they‘ve received gifts. Instead, teach your child there are always people you can thank at any time of year. Point out all the people who work behind the scenes to make life better and encourage your child to thank them. Help your child write thank you notes to people they appreciate. They can draw pictures for Grandma or give a special card to a daycare provider, martial arts instructor, or family friend. Create special notes for other people who assist your family—such as the mail carrier, the person who cuts your child’s hair, or a doctor. Write letters to thank police officers or firefighters in your community for the work that they do.
Donate items or your time to people in need
It’s nice to get kids involved in fundraising, but sometimes fundraisers are too abstract. Kids don’t fully grasp the concept of who they are raising money for or how the money is being used. Instead, get them directly involved in donating items. For example: Plant a vegetable garden and assign regular duties to your child, such as watering the plants, pulling weeds, and harvesting the vegetables. Then, give the vegetables to people in need. Gather gently used toys and donate them to an orphanage, homeless shelter, or domestic violence shelter. Talk to your child about where the toys are going and let them pick out which toys they are willing to donate. Help your child identify clothes that they can donate to other children. Give them some say over which items they want to donate. Make a meal and deliver it to an older neighbor, relative, or friend.
Donate gently used books to the library or a charity.
– Written by Kumar Bandyo