The healing power of nature
As I write this post today, I am just back from a day spent in Curraghchase forest park with my two daughters.
We arrived home happy and tired after walking for a few hours in the woods.
We brought a picnic with us and sat on the grass under the trees in the sunshine.
All three of us noticed how relaxed we are feeling this evening compared to yesterday (Bank Holiday Monday) when we spent a day indoors due to the weather.
Science now backs up what we all innately know about the power of nature- being around trees reduces our stress hormones and boosts our mood.
You may not have heard of the term ‘forest bathing’. Forest bathing is simply spending time outdoors under the canopy of trees. How lucky we are here in Limerick to have many places of beauty local to us to explore and discover this summer.
In terms of our mental wellbeing, we cannot underestimate the importance of getting outside every day. In a recent study, researchers found that participants in forest bathing trips displayed significantly decreased scores for anxiety, depression, anger, confusion and fatigue.
Being out in the sunshine also means we get access to vitamin D.
Vitamin D can only be produced by our bodies in response to sunshine from the end of March to the end of September here in Ireland and vitamin D is vital for our mood.
Exposing one third of our skin to the sun for 5-10 minutes helps us to make vitamin D and this is also crucial for our immunity which is more important than ever right now.
When outdoors, leave devices such as phones and ipads behind and you can focus on some simple mindfulness practices such as your breath, appreciating the view, touching plants and flowers.
Focusing on the present moment will help to reduce any anxiety and stress you may be feeling. The act of appreciating nature as you walk will bring you into a feeling of gratitude which is great for your physical and mental health.