What could possibly be the best gift to yourself this holiday season? It’s not that luxurious sheet set you’ve been eyeing nor the latest tech gadget (regardless of how good the Black Friday deal was!). The best gift you can give yourself is giving your mind, body and soul the opportunity to indulge in nature.
We often take nature for granted—or are simply too busy to really enjoy our beautiful planet. But the truth is that nature is an incredibly powerful healer. Read on for a look into how nature can help restore your health, kick off your shoes, and then simply enjoy earth. You’ll be so glad you did come the New Year!
Simply put, nature can help calm you.
If you’ve ever taken a walk in a forest, then you might have noticed the way breathing in that fresh, pine-scented air and soaking in the beauty of the greenery can be extremely restorative.
Shinrin-yoku, which literally translates to forest bathing, originated in Japan in the 1980s, and continues to be practiced today. It’s a type of nature therapy that has been shown in studies to help lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone), pulse rates and blood pressure .
No small feat right? Given that stress is a major contributing factor towards many modern-day health complaints. Also, you’ve probably noticed how managing your stress levels can visibly boost your complexion or how much more your skin glows and stays clear when you’re feeling balanced. Yet another incentive to take longer walks in a natural environment.
It’s not all about mental calm and de-stressing though (although the benefits of this can’t be overstated). Forest bathing and a return to nature can have incredible effects on the physical state as well.
Studies have shown that for people with diabetes, nature immersion can have positive effects on blood glucose levels . Observing eighty-seven non-insulin dependent diabetic patients, after walking several kilometers in the forest and experiencing the fresh air and beautiful surroundings, their blood glucose levels actually dropped. Lowering blood glucose levels with the simple act of walking in nature is quite remarkable. It’s an activity that almost anybody can do, making it accessible as well as beneficial.
Your immune system might not be a single entity like, say, your heart or your lungs, but it’s one of the most vital parts of the miracle that is the human body.
Interestingly enough, immersing yourself in forest bathing can help strengthen your immune system. A strong immune system will guard well against infection and other types of diseases. In fact, a study on the importance of nature for health found that “a forest bathing trip increases human natural killer activity.”  Natural killer (NK) cells are a type of white blood cell involved in innate immunity and play a huge role in fighting against virally infected cells that can lead to diseases like cancer. The study in question found that a single forest bathing trip was enough to significantly increase NK activity, NK cells and anti-cancer proteins. It is believed the phytoncides released from trees and the general decrease in stress levels helped bring about this result .
Return To Your Roots
City life has its charms, but it can be to our detriment to ignore nature. Allowing ourselves to soak it all up and truly bathe in nature, in all its glory, can be rejuvenating, therapeutic and extremely healthy. This is a reminder, a call to action, to give yourself into nature as often as you can. The benefits are too great to be passed by. Even as the busy whirr of city life holds you in its clutches, remember to take some time for yourself, whether it’s in a lovely park or an actual forest, to commune with nature.
It’s easy (and understandable) to cozy up on the couch with your loved ones, especially when the chill starts making its way into the air, but when you have a moment, put on your warmest sweater and shoes give yourself the gift of nature. Exhale your stresses and inhale the peace.
Happy Holidays from the Luxe Botanics Team!