Could Forest Bathing Make You Live Longer?

The forest isn’t the first place you think of when planning to go bathing, but its all the craze in Japan and has been since the 1980s. In Japan, its called “Shinrin-yoku” which means immersed in nature and it has become a vital healing medicine in Japan.

Many health experts have been claiming that forest bathing is the most important thing you could do for your health. According to national figures, in the UK we are a stressed-out nation, 74% of UK adults are overwhelmed by stress at some point in their lives making it one of the biggest health problems we face today.

There have been many scientific studies that demonstrate the healing effects of simply being in nature that can help us live longer and healthier lives.

So how does something so simple as a walk in the forest give you ultimate health benefits?

It’s proven to:

  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve your mood
  • Increased ability to focus,
  • Accelerated recovery from illness
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved sleep

 

photo-1441974231531-c6227db76b6e

It seems the effect of just switching off from your everyday problems and thoughts to spend some time in nature has a positive healing effect physically and mentally.  We live in such an unnatural environment, constantly connected to our phones which distracts us from what is important in life. Just listening to the sounds of the forest is the best meditation.

I tried it this weekend and went to the forest with my dog, we just walked slowly and peacefully connecting with nature, I noticed the trees, the branches, the simple things became magical,  I felt a sense of calm which lasted for days, I am usually affected by high cortisol levels and anxiety and this all disappeared, I could think more clearly and my problems felt so insignificant, I didn’t want to come out of the forest that day.

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 12.52.18

The best methods for forest bathing.

  • Turn your phone off,  the idea is to escape such intrusions that enter your life
  • Even if you are in the company it’s better to be quiet and listen to nature not the sounds of your friends talking even if the conversation is great.
  • Don’t use this time to think about your problems which would make this a useless exercise.
  • Be mindful, take in the sounds of nature, the birds, the leaves blowing in the wind, smell the earth, feel the ground under your feet.

 

If you live near a natural park, the countryside, or a forest, make time to try forest bathing and feel the healing power of nature. The more you do it the more benefits you will feel from this free and mindful practice and you will keep wanting to go back for more. Natural healing is definitely the best medicine for me.

 

 

 

How To Lower Cortisol Levels Naturally

As someone who has personally suffered from the effects of anxiety and stress, I know how it feels to live with the fight or flight response, which is often permanently active and the consequences of this condition mean exhausted adrenals, fatigue and a general feeling of malaise.

One study shows that 3 million adults in the UK currently suffer from anxiety disorders, some claim that anxiety is the disease of the 21st century. Many psychologists working with young people have noted a substantial increase in the number of people, young and old, reporting with symptoms of anxiety.

So what are we getting all anxious about? 

It seems to be a problem mainly associated with the modern world and can be triggered by stressful events, work or relationship problems. Some people find the news makes them anxious and it wouldn’t be surprising. The news is full of stories of conflict, natural disasters, economic troubles, and crime and that can also add to our anxiety. 

What is Cortisol and what effect does it have on the body? 

Cortisol is a stress hormone which is produced by our adrenal glands and is usually released in response to events such as exercising and stress.

It’s a healthy response when it is required especially if we are in a dangerous situation but the problem is that this stress response is being triggered too frequently from our ever-stressed, fast-paced lifestyle and our bodies are pumping out cortisol almost constantly, which can wreak havoc on our health. 

Long-term stress and elevated cortisol may also be linked to insomnia.

The Effects of Elevated Cortisol 

– Elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels which could cause blood sugar imbalances and put our bodies at risk of type 2 diabetes. 

– The purpose of Cortisol is to reduce inflammation in the body, which is good, but over time these efforts to reduce inflammation also suppresses the immune system. Chronic inflammation caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet and stress, contributes to keeping cortisol levels soaring.

–  It’s important to eat your meals in a quiet manner allowing your digestion and absorption of nutrients to work at its peak performance, however if you are stressed, indigestion develops and the mucosal lining becomes irritated and inflamed. This inflammation can lead to a higher increase in the production of cortisol and the cycle continues as the body becomes increasingly burdened.

– Long-term stress and elevated cortisol may also be linked to insomnia, chronic fatigue, and depression. When we sleep our cells renew and regenerate and in situations of chronic stress these systems are compromised allowing cortisol to soar. 

Eat More Greens

How Can We Reduce Cortisol?

The best approach to keeping cortisol levels at bay is mastering stress management and optimising our diet.

1. Tackling Stress: Exercise is a great way to release built-up stress, emotions, anger and the toxin overload that comes with it and this will also help to promote a better nights sleep. If you need to talk about what is causing your stress, try seeing a therapist, whether its someone who can just listen or perhaps someone who can find an alternative way to break your stressful thought patterns such as hypnotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy.

2. Be Mindful: Try practicing Yoga and Meditation, I found it easier to start by making it part of my morning or bedtime routine, even if its just 10 minutes of stretching and conscious breathing. Yoga, Meditation and other mind-body practices train your body and mind to be able to cope with stress which can also improve overall health and well-being.

3. Lower Inflammation: Systemic inflammation causes elevated cortisol levels. If we can naturally decrease inflammation in the body and minimise stress, decreased cortisol levels should follow. Try sticking to a low inflammatory diet which includes lots of organic plant-based foods, fibre, nuts, seeds, and beans and cut down on inflammatory foods such as processed take away meals, high sugar, alcohol, caffeine and foods high in saturated fats. 

4. Laugh: I don’t know about you but after a good belly laugh, nothing can change my good mood, Its just addictive and I crave more and more laughter. Spend time with friends that are fun, that make you laugh or watch a comedy or funny cats on youtube, whatever makes you smile. Those feel good endorphins that you release will naturally lower your stress levels and if you make time for regular laughter this should help to keep your cortisol levels at a low. Also sometimes when I am meditating I find that if I smile to myself it really has an effect of, its all ok, everything is going to be fine even if I don’t feel it is at that moment just fake it. Smile or laugh as much as possible and your high cortisol levels will have no place to hide.