Nature’s Medicine

I am in no doubt about the healing effects of nature; it is medicine for my body and soul, it calms my nervous system and clears my mind. The stress of modern living is leading us further away from nature, and we are replacing that void with stress, noise, hustle and bustle. The last time that I went hiking in nature my Parkinson’s symptoms dissipated and I walked symptom free with a normal gait; this is proof of the medicinal power of nature.  Spending time outdoors is widely recognised as a tool to reduce stress and anxiety, it aids relaxation and wellbeing, and it settles our harassed brains and nervous systems.  

Unfortunately, many of us spend most of our time indoors, staring at screens like zombies. The link between screen time and brain development, anxiety and depression is well-documented; we are bombarded with distractions that over-stimulate us and leave our brains frazzled. Surely there is more to life? Nature makes us step away from the screens and the constant din; we miss out on so much when we spend our days attached to technology, it is literally sucking the life out of us.   

For years, many patients throughout the world have been receiving doctor’s prescriptions asking them to spend time outdoors, clearly nature’s power to heal cannot be underestimated. Time in nature increases our happy hormones such as oxytocin, and it reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Blood pressure is reduced, the immune system is strengthened, we get a natural dose of vitamin D, and it increases our mental wellbeing. Getting back to nature boosts our mood, allows time for contemplation, gives the body a renewed energy and brings harmony to the mind and soul. I firmly believe that finding time in nature should be non-negotiable.

How can you answer this call to the wild? Well, if you’re lucky enough to be able to go to the woods, you can practice forest-bathing; touch, smell and feel the trees. Take a restorative walk on the beach or get into the garden as often as you can. If you can’t get out or have no garden, then listen to recordings of nature’s acoustics such as the sound of waves, insects chirping, waves crashing, birdsong or the patter of raindrops. Bring nature into your house with plants and flowers, I always get a dopamine hit and a lift when I have beautiful flowers in the house. Reconnect with nature by noticing it, make a conscious effort to notice the beauty around you; let it reenergise every cell, uplift and rebalance you.

Nature is waiting to heal you and to nourish your soul, so shake off your worries for a short interval, put on those walking shoes and connect to the earth. Time with Mother Nature is a necessity, not a luxury …

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