- The Facts:Multiple studies show how simply being in nature can alleviate a host of mental health issues, as well as several different biological health issues.
- Reflect On:Perhaps it is a lack of nature in our lives that is contributing to our sense of disconnection and unfulfillment?
It may or may not come as a surprise to you, but simply spending time in a forest can actually be a key to alleviating a wide array of mental, physical, and emotional ailments. In fact, the absence of nature in your life could very well be a cause for some of your suffering and getting back to our roots could be the cure you’ve been looking for. Forest Therapy is an emerging trend that is helping many people return to their natural, more aligned state.
I recently completed a 2-day hike along the Juan de Fuca trail on beautiful Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. Not that this was anything extreme by any means, it was just enough to leave me feeling entirely refreshed, recharged, rejuvenated and connected to myself, to my friends and to the beauty and aliveness of all the nature around me. I feel strongly that a large component of what made this trek so therapeutic was the fact that there was no cell service so the use of a cell phone was not needed except to take a few photos with. Even though this wasn’t necessarily an easy hike, I had a tremendous amount of energy to keep me going and the amount of mental clarity was truly astounding. If you are someone who struggles with meditation, the act of simply walking in nature could be what you are looking for. It’s hard not to be present while in the company of beautiful trees, ferns, moss, fungus and all of the little woodland creatures and chirping birdies.
Yes, people actually pay to go on guided walks through the forest in an effort to get relief from what ails them. While to many this may sound completely absurd, many of us are living in cities, and not only far away from forests, but disconnected from the concept altogether. Living in the hustle and bustle of the city can be a great distraction from how you are really feeling until it’s not. This is exactly where forest therapy can come in handy. Sometimes, believe it or not, things really can be that simple, reconnecting to the earth and the life force energy of it can reinvigorate us in ways we may have never imagined.
Science has already shown us how hiking in nature literally changes our brain chemistry and how even just simply strolling through a forest can drastically lower thoughts of rumination. Again, it’s very difficult to be wrapped up in negative thoughts while amidst the power of trees.
To take this a step further, and we might as well, the act of grounding can provide even more benefits for your physical, mental and emotional state. Grounding, which is also known as Earthing is the very simple act of connecting directly with the earth, literally. Most of us are wearing rubber bottomed shoes whenever we are actually in nature, as electrical beings this blocks us from being able to ground ourselves, this can show up as a whole host of symptoms within our bodies. While we may get some barefoot time once in awhile on the beach, to make a more conscious effort to do this when you are outdoors or in a forest can assist with anything from rheumatoid arthritis to depression to chronic fatigue and among many other things can lower cortisol levels — this last one is particularly beneficial for those living in cities and tend to have naturally higher levels of cortisol than those living in the suburb or rural areas.
The Best Part?
You don’t need a doctor’s appointment, prescription, a hefty investment, a wingman — nothing, you can get started right now. There are no side effects and no heavy lifting required. We are beings of the Earth, when you think about it, it only just makes sense that our disconnection from the earth and nature itself could be a large contributing factor to the many ailments that our modern society is faced with today. You literally have nothing to lose, find a park closest to you, kick off your shoes, and enjoy a nice tree to start. Or find a forest, a mountain to hike, a lake or a beach to sit by. Absorb all of the loving and healing energy that the planet offers you, for free!