Nurtured by Nature: The Benefits of Nature Walks
Do you want to be happier? Reduce your stress? Improve attention?
I have one simple activity that can do all this, for free…nature walks.
Psychological research is advancing our understanding of how time in nature can improve our mental health and sharpen our cognition, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders, and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.
- You aren’t staring at a device; instead, you are looking at nature, which allows the eyes to relax and reduces eye strain.
- You promote blood circulation, increase your heart rate and lung capacity, and flood your body with oxygen. All great things!
- Listening to the sounds of nature calms the body by altering connections in our brain that reduce our body’s natural fight-or-flight instinct. Nature sounds distract us from daily anxiety and worries, redirecting our tensions and stresses outward to outside objects and movements.
- If you bring a friend, you can get and give a free therapy session.
You don’t need to travel to the Poconos or Delaware Water Gap to get the benefits. Although, those are great day trips to take with your kids, especially now with the beauty fall brings. Walking around your neighborhood or a local park has just as many benefits.
As I recover from spinal surgery, one of the only things I can do is walk, and you had better believe I do. My husband and I walk our son to school with our dog each morning. We do about a mile, and at night, we do another with the dog in the dark, which I love! Walking at night is so therapeutic. Everything is muffled and quiet, and I feel so at peace afterward.
Don’t believe me? Lisa Nisbet, Ph.D, a psychologist at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, who studies connectedness to nature, states, “There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human wellbeing. You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even urban nature. And your connection with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature.”
It’s supposed to be beautiful this weekend, so carve some time for yourself and your family to walk. It doesn’t have to be long. 15 minutes will do. Perhaps you can turn it into a daily activity and improve your family’s overall health. They will thank you for it.
By: Gurnett Signh
“The only constant in life is change.” Heraclitus
One of the many things I love about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the strong belief in change and adaptation. TCM holds that everything in nature is in flux and evolving yet still maintains balance. It is easy to observe these changes in the natural world around us, but this is not only something that is occurring outside in the environment. We are a part of nature and influenced by its changes. We are also constantly in a state of change.
TCM teaches us to adjust along with the seasonal changes as it is believed that the body, mind, and spirit are affected by the season and our environment since we are connected and not separate from nature. By aligning with the natural cycles of the seasons, we are given the opportunity to nourish and support ourselves to stay healthy and in balance. In short, TCM promotes practicing seasonal living.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the calendar year is divided into five seasons rather than the typical four (Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer) that we think of. This fifth season is Late Summer, the short time from the end of August until the Autumn Equinox. Although the days are still long, and we can continue to gather from the abundance of growth in our gardens, a noticeable shift can be felt in the subtle softening of the intensity of the sun as well as a crispness in the night air. This current season of harvest is when we return to the middle or center, from the expansive and fullness of the Summer (which is ruled by yang energy) toward the inward and storing energy of the Autumn (which is ruled more by yin energy). According to TCM, this is a time to accept the abundance of Summer and allow that to nourish our bodies, minds, and spirits, offering stability as we prepare for the surrendering and letting go that will happen in the Autumn season.
According to TCM, each season has specific associations that can help direct our habits to encourage a more balanced life. Each of the five elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water) corresponds to a season. In late Summer, the Earth element is the most active, as well as the most vulnerable. The Earth element is all about nourishing and cultivating that will help us thrive. The other associations unique to the Late Summer season include:
YIN ORGAN: Spleen
YANG ORGAN: Stomach
SPIRIT: Yi or Intellect
SENSE ORGANS: Mouth
VIRTUES: Empathy and Nurturing
To support a healthy Earth element and the Late Summer season, it is particularly important for nourishing the digestive system and optimizing the immune system. According to TCM, the Spleen and Stomach are related to digestion. The Spleen transforms food into nutritive qi/energy and transports this qi to the body. The Spleen also contributes to blood production and helps keep the blood in the vessels. Our thoughts and mental capacity are related directly to the spirit of the Spleen or Yi (intellect), which influences our ability to concentrate and memorize. This is a wonderful time for grounding, quieting our minds, reflecting, and “digesting” our experiences by recognizing what activities/experiences/company is nourishing for us, which we can learn from, and which we can prepare to let go of.
Some potential health issues that might be more likely to manifest during this time of year include digestive weakness, such as IBS, fatigue, and muscle weakness. Due to the connection with the mind and thinking, the spirit of the Spleen is prone to worry, overthinking, and anxiety.
By attuning to the Late Summer season and aligning with the natural rhythms of the world around us, we can learn how best to support our body, mind, and spirit. It allows us to cultivate optimal health and vitality within as well as experience a more fulfilling time as we transition from Late Summer to Autumn.
To learn more about Acupuncture and how it can help support you move more harmoniously through these seasonal changes, please get in touch with Gurneet Singh, LAc, ND, at (267) 356-4949 or Gurneet@MettaAcupuncture.com.
Now that summer is ending, it’s time to prepare your body for the seasonal changes ahead.
The Autumnal Equinox is on September 23 and officially marks the start of fall…so you still have time to eat the fresh fruits and veggies the summer bounty provides.
However, since September is already rife with change due to back to school and the approaching holidays, it is extra important to prepare our bodies for this new season.
Here are a few easy hacks to help you embrace the seasonal shift with ease:
1 – Eat Warming Foods & Drinks: Spices and root vegetables are on the menu for fall. Bring on the soups, stews, and pumpkin-flavored everything! Shift from your iced lattes and cold brews to hot beverages, especially spiced teas like chai, cinnamon, clove, and ginger. The key is to eat and drink warm foods and drinks to warm the body as the cold begins to set in.
Health Hack – Eat Pumpkin! It is high in beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. Studies show that vitamin A can strengthen your immune system and help fight infections. Give it to your dog. It gives them a shiny coat and helps them transition into colder weather as well.
2 – Monitor Your and your Kids Stress Levels: Back to School, Fall Sports, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the sprint toward Christmas and Hanukkah lay ahead. The lazy days of summer are a memory, and we must wait another year for those sunny, carefree days…or do we? Don’t wait to deal with stress. You should practice stress relief techniques daily and be a role model for your children. Healthy meals and non-screen family time, such as walks and crafts, are needed.
Health Hack: Fill the crockpot with root vegetables and warming spices in the morning. When you and the family get home to a dark house after practice or a hard day at work or school, you can skip the fast food lines and enjoy a healthy meal together.
3 – Prepare for Fall Allergies: Mildew, mold, and dust mites can trigger many unwelcome symptoms in the Fall. Dust mites are rampant in schools that have been shuttered all summer.
Health Hack: Local honey is pollinated by local bees, which helps you fight allergies. Nettle leaf, peppermint, and red raspberry leaf teas are a great supplement to antihistamines.
4 – Stay Active & Connect with Nature: No one can deny that the change of season is beautiful. The changing leaves make everyone pause, but for how long? A look out the window as you rush from one commitment to the next? Connecting with nature plays a significant role in improving our physical and mental health. Just 10 minutes in nature reduces stress and depression and helps you feel happier.
Health hack: Daily evening walks with the family enjoying the beautiful foliage.
5 – Moisturize and hydrate: Dehydration causes stress on the body, and drinking at least 5 glasses of water a day is an easy way to stay healthy. The fall weather is dry, which dries out our skin. Skin is the biggest organ in the body and helps regulate body temperature and protects us from the external environment, so it is vital to keep it nourished.
Health Hack: Set water intake goals in your family, and make it a fun competition.
Want more? Need help preparing? Try Juli Eckmeier’s Wholistic Health for the Fall on Sunday, September 24th, 6p – 8p.
Tips for Beating Back-to-School Stress
It’s that time of year again. The kids are getting restless, and folders, notebooks and markers, crayons, and art supplies galore are taking over stores!
Just thinking about it makes me anxious. I’m sure it does for every parent from August through September. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. Here are a few helpful tips to help you stay present and calm during the dreaded Back to School season.
- Take a Day Trip – School is still a few weeks away, so take a day off from work and take yourself and the kids to the beach, the Poconos, or something else you had been planning to do all summer but haven’t. Time goes by so quickly. Enjoy some time with your kiddos before they are all grown up.
- Find Grace – You don’t have to be perfect. Your kids don’t have to be perfect. Stopping at the drive-through for dinner when you don’t feel like cooking is okay. Telling your child that the test they failed is no big deal rather than lecturing them is a gift that will help your child learn to deal with failure in a healthy way.
- Say No – We all know times have changed, and we are desperate to give our children all the things we didn’t have, but sometimes it is too much. Kids don’t have to do a sport every season; they definitely don’t need to do multiple. If all you do is run children to and from practice or activities, when are you spending time with them or finding time for yourself?
- Organize – We have a large dry-erase monthly calendar in our kitchen. I use different markers for each person. It helps a lot. My schedule varies, so it helps my husband know where I am. It also keeps you from double booking, which will help reduce your stress.
- Routine– Establish a routine from wake up to bedtime that gives everyone their own tasks to do, so it doesn’t all fall on your overburdened shoulders. Rather than doing it all yourself, ask your kids for help with age-appropriate tasks. My 11-year-old sets the table, checks the mail, takes out the recycling, and dusts. He knows he needs to do these things before he can play video games or watch TV.
- Take time for yourself – This is the most important one. Don’t let months go by without spending a night out with a friend or having a date night. Being a good parent means taking care of yourself before your loved ones.
- Skip it – If you aren’t feeling something you have planned, skip it. Don’t do it all the time, but if you are having a day where one thing after another goes wrong, or you wake up feeling like you can’t…don’t- skip it! I know it’s trendy, but a self-care day is a thing. It isn’t going to the salon and getting your nails done. It’s saying no thank you to the day ahead.
- Reflect – At the end of each day, sit with your thoughts for about ten minutes: no TV, no music, no talking in the background. Sit quietly and reflect on what has happened, good or bad, without judgment, and process it. It’ll keep your stress from turning into anxiety or depression.
Good luck, and if you see someone in the back-to-school section of Target struggling with multiple lists and whiny children, wish them luck, too. Halloween will be here before you know it, and the pressures of creating the perfect Christmas will raise your blood pressure again. So take a few deep breaths and dip into the list above when you need a little more help.
Interested in learning more about ways to cope with stress? Try Kathleen Megahan’s workshop “Stress Relief for Busy People” on Friday, September 29th, from 6:30-7:30p. Learn More
By Sheri-Lynn DeMaris
We oftentimes forget what is in the food we choose to eat daily. Much of the modern-day American diet has high fat and cholesterol. But what are good fats, and what are bad fats?
When teaching school children, I line up glasses of different dairy products: butter, cream, whole milk, half and half, skim milk and 1 percent, and then soy milk. I ask students to insert a drinking straw in each glass and then try and pour water thru the straw. The straw represents our arteries, and the water represents the blood flowing through them. What surprises kids most is that the heavier dairy products leave a very greasy sticky film on the inside of the straws, and butter and cream begin to block the passage of water.
It’s been known that a high-fat diet contributes to heart disease. This is a no-brainer; it builds up unhealthy plaque inside our arteries. But books like The China Study by Colin Campbell are now showing scientific studies that eating many high fatty foods contributes directly to cancer.
Another interesting fact is vegetables, grains, and fruits contain no fat and lots of fiber, which acts like scrubbing agents in the digestive tract and arteries for reducing excess fats, cholesterol, and hormones relating to these diseases. The fiber in these foods directly cleans the liver of excess Estrogen.
Lipodor is a very popular medication now given to patients with high cholesterol levels. The only problem is this has many side effects. So, why not opt for grains and veggies? They have none!
There are different kinds of fats. Saturated and Trans fats increase your cholesterol, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help to lower your cholesterol. An easy way to remember this is with a fun quote I once heard “Avoid the fat brother’s Sat and Trans and make friends with the fat sister’s Mono and Poly.”
Saturated fats are found in red meat, dairy foods, and tropical oils such as palm and coconut oil. Tran’s fats are manufactured in food plants and found in French fries and many commercialized processed foods, usually labeled as “partially hydrogenated oils.” These tend to harden the arteries very quickly in the body.
Olestra is one popular ingredient that is very harsh on the arteries. Our friendly fat sisters, Mono and Poly, are found in such foods as nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, and peanut butter.
So when choosing your foods, remember the healthiest choices for lowering your cholesterol are plant-based foods: grains, vegetables, beans, and fruits…they have no fats! Complimented by a little deep-fried and sautéed vegetable oil, they provide a healthy balance of fats without the bad cholesterol.
Want to know more about healthy eating? Join the Future Food Right Now Conference on October 20-21, 2023, to hear a unique blend of speakers, sponsors, and activities exploring the future of food through the lens of global health and sustainability.
Contact Sheri-Lynn DeMaris of MGI at email@example.com for more information or visit https://futurefoodrightnow.com/.
There is only one certainty in life—we are born, and we will die. It is up to us to make the most out of what falls in between. This can be challenging as there are so many things to fit into our day.
Most people wait for vacations to relax and destress, but that just isn’t enough! It is essential to add wellness to each and every day.
How, you may ask?
Well, I wish the answer was simple. But it isn’t. Each person has to find what works for them. Plus, as our responsibilities change, our needs change as well. So supporting mind-body wellness in your life will not look the same today as it did a year ago, five years ago, or even five years from now.
The key is to take one day at a time. Don’t wait until next month for your vacation or weekend to find some stress relief. If you don’t manage your stress now, it will turn into anxiety, which is a slippery slope toward depression and hopelessness. You should practice it daily.
Some of the most important things to add to your daily life are:
Healthy Work-life balance – Take breaks. If you work from home–choose specific hours to work and stick to them. Take time to talk with your coworkers and get to know them. Take days off when you are healthy to do something fun.
Daily Exercise or Movement – You don’t have to train for a marathon, but you can go for daily walks with a pet or on your own. Take a yoga or exercise class (We have many virtual options if you can’t find the time to get away). Stretch at the kitchen counter while you cook. Garden.
Quiet Reflection – Your brain needs time to reflect, so it can process and store your memories. Let yourself sit with the events of your day and think about them. If you spend 10-15 minutes daily doing this, you’ll fall asleep easier and wake up refreshed.
Water! Water! Water! – Dehydration causes stress. Try to drink between 75-100 ounces of water a day, depending on the amount of your activity. Your skin will be thankful for it as well!
Hourly screen breaks and movement – The blue light from devices can have multiple ill effects on the body, so give yourself frequent breaks. Look out the window and give your eyes a break. You can also add some movement with the screen break for even better results.
Healthy Diet – This one can be tough, but it is so important! Think of your body like a car. You won’t get the maximum performance out if you put cheap fuel in. It doesn’t have to be drastic. Perhaps switch carbohydrate snacks like pretzels and chips with nuts or fruit. Switch out soda, iced tea, and fruit juices with water. Once you get rolling, you’ll find yourself changing more and more as you feel the benefits.
All these things aren’t your responsibility alone. Your employer should be helping you lighten the load and giving you some of these things at work.
No, seriously, they should. Multiple studies have shown this!
Did you know that greater employee well-being is tied to higher company valuation and greater profits? Multiple studies have reflected that employers investing in their employees’ health boosts their profits.
Why? When an employer invests in their employee’s well-being, they are less likely to take days off, become ill, and need extended sick leave. They are more productive when working and create a community amongst their colleagues that boosts morale and improves communication and collaboration.
Airmid Wellness is here to help! We offer many wellness options for you as an individual and for businesses and groups.
Humans are social creatures, and we don’t like to feel alone. If you bring a culture of wellness to your business or group, your employees will feel more connected and eager to work together toward a common goal.
Not the boss? Tell your boss or HR department that you think wellness options should be made available to you and your coworkers. Here are a few stats from the Gallup poll to throw their way:
- 72% of employers saw reduced healthcare costs after implementing a wellness program.
- 87% of employees consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer.
- Wellness programs can reduce absenteeism by 14-19%.
- The average return on investment (ROI) for employee wellness programs is six-to-one.
- 56% of employees who participate in company wellness programs say they have fewer sick days due to these programs.
- Employees who don’t exercise regularly are 50% more likely to have high presenteeism than regular exercisers.
- 57% of workers with high health risks became low-risk after completing a work-provided exercise program.
- 84% of employers reported higher employee productivity and performance due to wellness plans in 2019.
Learn More about Airmid’s Wellness for Businesses & Groups Programs. Contact Jen Leary to set up your first Lunch & Learn or add a weekly, biweekly, or monthly mindful movement or meditation class at 215-293-0744 (Option 3) or firstname.lastname@example.org.