“Vitamin N” and Positive Health Impacts
As many of you know, I thrive in natural spaces. It is essential that I have a daily dose of “Vitamin N” — time spent in nature. This is why I surround myself with the natural world. I live on acreage in the woods in the middle of nowhere. My only neighbors are the deer, the birds, the bears, the cougar, and the elk. This way I have a connection to nature everyday, it is right outside my doorstep. It is where I feel most at home and at peace — and there is a good reason for this. As I wrote in “How to Foster Nature Connection for Holistic Healing“:
“There’s a lot of research data on record now about how nature positively affects our health. There was a study in 1984 showing that just seeing pictures of nature positively affects human brain health. When participants viewed a nature scene, the parts of the brain associated with empathy and love lit up. … A 2010 study clearly showed that time in nature not only has a positive mental effect, thus helping a person’s psychological well being, but also can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Nature clearly inspires feelings that connect us to each other and the environment.”
What better way to surround yourself with nature in your day-to-day life than to experience it firsthand and snap photographs that can be enjoyed later. Below is a practice that can help you slow down and take joy in nature. It is simple but powerful.
A far-flung, wild space is not needed for this practice — although, if you have the opportunity, I say go for it! Your backyard garden or a local green space is a fantastic place to start. In our fast-paced world, it is important now more than ever to get out of our heads, slow down, and notice the beauty around us. By focusing your camera on a certain aspect of nature that draws you in — the smoothness of a stone, the shape and color of a leaf, clouds against a brilliantly blue sky, or the shadows cast by a tree — we are mindful of aspects that we normally rush past and miss. Breathe deeply and enjoy a moment of stillness while you take in the nature around you. Ten minutes is enough to shift your mental state, reduce stress, and rejuvenate. Of course, you can always enjoy longer sessions for increased benefits!
Once you print your photographs (yes – print them!), write a little note on the back of why it caught your attention. You can even try your hand at Haiku — short Japanese poems based on the beauty of nature. For those of you who like to draw, switch out snapping a photograph and hand sketch an aspect of nature instead.
The Importance of Calming the Stress Response
In our rapidly shifting world, it is important to navigate stress in a healthy way. Otherwise, we put both our physical and mental wellbeing at risk. Beyond spending time in natural spaces, getting enough quality sleep, and making sure our diet is in good shape, we can utilize medicinal herbs to calm the nervous system.