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Just 17 Minutes a Day

There’s a reason why every second person you meet on the island is from elsewhere – if they’re anything like me, it was nature who called them here.

 

Coming from the bustling city of Toronto, I moved here ten years ago because my nervous system needed it. Like many others, I could feel a physical release in my body by connecting to the ocean, trees, and mountains. This was something the concrete walls of a city just couldn’t provide. Yet, even knowing of the benefits of nature, I’ve become complacent and a home-body. So today, for you and for me, I share some reminders and tips for getting your healthy fix of nature’s medicine.

 

Just 17 minutes a day is all you need, according to a study at the University of Exeter. People who spend at least two hours a week in nature show significant gains in physical, mental, and emotional health. These benefits include reduced nervous system arousal, bringing us from flight-or-fight activation to rest-and-digest mode. Time in nature leads to a reduction in stress hormone levels, and an increase in mood-enhancing hormones, helping to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

 

These stats are hard to argue with – who wouldn’t want to feel less stress and happier and calmer? Here in Chemainus, time in nature is pretty easy to come by, it’s just a matter of attention. Going for a walk or a drive up the bush with music blaring or a podcast on might not count if you’re caught up in the audio instead of your surroundings. But, if you do walk without headphones, and stop to smell the flowers along the way, then you’re getting your fix! Driving up the bush with the radio off, windows down, and peering into the forest is also fixated time in nature. Or perhaps instead you prefer to sit on your deck, hot tea or coffee in hand, watching the weather and local deer family help themselves to your neighbour’s garden. Regardless of if you schedule this nature time as an event on its own or combine it with something you’re already doing, with focused attention, you can still reap the benefits! Here’s an example of how you can practice focused attention next time you find yourself outside, or even driving with a view of nature out the window.



Connect with the Senses:

1. Take a deep inhale. Notice the temperature of the air as it enters your nose. Exhale.

2. Start to notice any nature scents around you – perhaps wet leaves, salty air, or the scent of fresh rain.

3. If you feel safe, close your eyes. Listen to the nature sounds around you. See if you can hear something from each element – air, water, fire, earth.

4. Feel the ground supporting from under you, perhaps reaching to touch any nearby plant-life.

5. Open your eyes once more and see if you can notice anything you didn’t before.

6. End by thanking yourself for taking this time to be and connect with the gifts of nature.

 

I hope you’ve found these reminders and tips helpful! Check out other wellness blog posts at ElementYoga.Ca!

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