This is a recommendation I regularly give to patients, especially if they're feeling chronically stressed or anxious. It's a simple step, yet so powerful. It's getting outside and connecting with nature!
This may seem like a peculiar "health and happiness" recommendation to make! But, this was a vital component when I needed to re-create overall balance, happiness and health in my life following a very stressful period. For me, the outdoors is one of the critical pieces to the puzzle. Regardless of where you live and what time of the year it is, I feel it's a necessary component of balanced living for all of us.
I don't believe we were intended to live in the captivity of our workplaces, cars, shopping malls and homes. We are part of nature - part of the entire ecosystem. In my opinion, we need to stay connected to it in order to achieve overall balance. Personally, I thrive when I get outside every single day. Easier said than done when it's insanely cold and miserable out!
I'd say it's well worth my effort though. I notice that my thinking is clearer, I have more energy and a much better attitude when I do this. Fresh air is healing and energizing, as is natural light. Our bodies and minds don't function at their optimal levels in stale, indoor air and artificial lighting, day in and day out.
I do as much as I can outside: I take the kids out for play time, exercise and meals. We've done plenty of home school lessons while sitting outside. I do my morning rituals out on the dock in the spring through fall. I read outside when I get the chance. As often as possible I do my cardio exercise outside. I actually like the widely varying weather conditions that Michigan provides!
On days that it's too dangerous to exercise outside, or just too miserable to do much of anything outside, I have a quick little routine I do. I step out onto our deck, look up at the big pine trees next to me and take a few deep breaths of fresh air as I do some nice lengthening stretches. I look up at the sky, look out at the lake... take another deep breath as I appreciate all the natural beauty. Then I run inside! I can even recall a couple times when I just opened the window to do this routine. Must have been pretty cold!
In those glorious spring, summer and fall months, the benefits of the outdoors are obvious. Sunshine offers the healing benefits of light itself, as well as vitamin D. We also tend to exercise and stay more active during these months. We eat outside, work outside and play outside. Fair weather fans, we are! The crisp air of winter has a unique blessing of its own - not much else can invigorate you so quickly! Plus, frozen nostrils just remind you how alive you are, don't they?!
Make the effort to get outside and connect with nature every single day. If (you think) your only chance to get outside is while you're rushing to and from your car during your busy routine, then allow at least 30 extra seconds in your routine to stop the craziness and connect with nature in some small way. Look up at a tree, listen to the birds, feel the breeze or smell a flower.
Another one of my "but-I'm-so-busy" favorites is to crack the window in the car while sitting at a stop light and just look around you at the sky and the trees. Yes, I'm still paying attention to the traffic conditions! The sky is different every single day - even when it's gray! Take some deep breaths and soak it all in.
You are becoming a fully balanced, completely healthy human being! Enjoy the process!
Until next time, Be Happy, Be Well and Smile!