A Walk In the Woods – A Path Towards Health.

by | Jul 10, 2019 | Health and Wellness

Welcome to my happy place.

Discovering serenity within the trees.

Inhaling the sigh of an ancient forest.

Lying on the earth, peering up through the canopy of green – hoping to catch a glimpse of the sun rays shining through tallest branches.

And it turns out, I’m not the only one interested in reaping the benefits of time spent in these wooded environments.

There’s been a striking amount of research done in this field lately, and it’s shining light on a whole new reason to take a walk in the woods.

So I want to shine some light on what it means to practice holistic nursing in nature. 

Now, even if you’re not an “outdoorsy” person, you’ll be surprised to hear how little time you need in nature to reap the physical, mental, and emotional benefits – and even help to prevent cancer!

As a Nurse Coach, I’m always excited to bring new information about healing modalities to my clients and community.

Especially the ones that are readily available, completely natural, and 100% free!

And as a Nurse, I know that my clients trust me to be evidence-informed.

So, let’s dive into some of the specifics so that you, too, can be armed with evidence-based knowledge to share with your clients.

Spending time in nature, particularly in a forested area of trees, has been shown to:

1. Increase the activity of your parasympathetic nervous system and reduce the activity of your sympathetic nerves. A natural way to counteract the constant fight-or-flight state of our daily, modern lives.

 

2. Reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones. This results in a decreased risk for hypertension and coronary artery disease.

 

3. Improve your mood. In addition to feeling good for getting outside the house, spending time with the trees measurably reduces anxiety, depression, anger, and fatigue.

 

4. Increase your immune system function by elevating levels of human natural killer-cell activity and intracellular levels of anti-cancer proteins. This suggests a preventive effect on cancers!

 

5. Improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep!

 

6. Feel a deeper sense of connection, gratitude, and purpose.

And if you’re reading this and still thinking, “No way, I’m not going out there with the dirt and the bugs…”

Or if you’re wondering how any of this can help your patients who are stuck inside of the walls of a hospital…

I’ve got great news.

Studies have also shown that simply having a view of a green space can speed up patient recovery time and improve mood.

You can practice holistic nursing in nature… inside!

Because even looking at photos of plants, forests, and greenery has demonstrated some similar results, including:

Calming the stress response, improving mood, and increasing productivity.

So, want to try it out?

How To Practice Forest Bathing:

Alright – here’s the fun part, which also happens to be incredibly simple.

Step 1:
Find a spot in nature.

Step 2:
Go and be there.

It’s really as simple as that.

If you engage in those two things, you will reap enormous benefits.

But in case you’re looking for the next level:

 

Maximizing Holistic Nursing In Nature:

Leave your phone behind!

Simply BE.

Take your time.

Let your body lead.

Open up all of your senses.

Listen to the sounds.

Look up, down, and around.

Breathe in the fresh air, and notice the smell of earth.

Touch the bark of the trees.

Feel the ground beneath you.

Notice the little things.

The wind moving through the leaves.

The light dancing on the ferns.

The birds singing overhead.

Let go of anywhere else you think you need to be, and anything else you feel pulled to do.

Simply be in nature.

Create a regular practice of doing this, and then, encourage others to do the same.

Because it just may be a pivotal part in preventative healthcare.

How we incorporate this science into each and every one of our Nurse Coach trainings:

All of the training videos were recorded in a setting that features nature in the background! It’s those subtle details that make all the difference!

Additionally, we work with retreat centers across the country that provide the opportunity to soak in some of nature’s medicine.

Check out these photos from some of the previous Collectives:

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The Author

Heather Lapides is a Registered Nurse, Board Certified Nurse Coach, and Co-founder of The Nurse Coach Collective. Heather is dedicated to supporting nurses to create more fulfillment in their careers, and more health and happiness in their lives.

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Other References:

1. Song, C., et al. (2018). Psychological benefits of walking through forest areas. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health15, 2804. [Google Scholar

2. Twohig-Bennett C, Jones A (2018) The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of green space exposure and health outcomes. Environmental Research 166: 628–637. [Google Scholar

3. Association of Nature and Forest Therapy

I’d love to know how you’ve experienced the benefits of nature in your work as a healer in the comments below?!

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