The Mind Loops Blog: “How To Heal Your Mind and Mood… With a Tree” – Jan 2017
First off… Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is starting off in a fascinating way… That something new and interesting and inspiring is being born… just like the crocus that are about to start peeking up from out of the dark soil.
What did you “plant” last year that is coming (or came) to fruition? What are you “seeding” in the way of goals, wishes, and plans this year? It’s time for some deep thinking… About your health, wealth, relationships, and who YOU want to become. What areas of your life need some attention and focus? What are you inspired about or enthusiastic to learn? Who do you need to reach out to – to say, “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” or just to stay connected with?
I absolutely LOVE this time of year – the reflecting on the past year, and the preparing for the new. I hope you’re getting into it too! Can be a very creative time…
But… What if things aren’t so hot and dandy for you right now… Then what?
Some “issues” from 2016 might still be lurking around in your life… Or maybe you woke up to a problem, hassle, or just plain ol’ bad mood this morning. There are many ways to help shift the situation – or at least how you FEEL and THINK about it… And one of the most effective methods is:
Get into a forest. Surround yourself by trees… (Or nature of any sort). This is a truly POWERFUL way to heal your mind, heart – even your immune system – and to lift up a down mood. But don’t just take my word for it…
A Stanford study¹ showed that a walk in nature significantly lowered “negative ruminating” (ie, Mind Loops) – and as a result, lowered depression.
Likewise, a Japanese study² showed that forest environments actually lowered cortisol (a stress hormone), as well as your pulse and blood pressure. Wow. Kind of like a natural anti-anxiety medication.
Forests (and nature) are so healing in fact, that both South Korea and Japan have their own “designated healing forests”!
Here is a beautifully produced and informative short film (4-1/2 mins) about the power of forests and nature to heal the mind, body, mood, and emotions. It explains how our brains respond to forests and nature, affecting both how we feel and think. Highly recommended!
Just click here: How Forests Heal People.
Your Experiment This Week:
Get out into nature! Make a DATE to go do it. Put it on your calendar. If it’s cold where you live (like it has been here in Seattle – brrr!), then layer up. Don’t let the weather stop you!!
If you’re not much of a hiker, but you’re still willing to try something new, (and kudos to you if you do – this is a New Year after all!), then I suggest this:
Google: “short, easy hikes near [your city]” or “best hikes for beginners near [your city].”
Then make the intention to GO – even if you don’t feel like it at the time. Take notice of how you feel, both before and after the hike/walk. Was there a difference? (I bet there will be). [See “SENSational walk” (below) to make it even more effective].
If you’re stuck at work or home and can’t get to a forest then at least go out for a walk. Get off the main roads near your office or in your neighborhood and surround yourself with as much nature as possible – even if it’s just a few trees or neighborhood yards.
To amplify the de-looping and healing effect even more: Take a SENSational walk.
How to do it: On your walk, focus on your senses: Smell the winter air, feel the coldness (or warmth, depending on where you live) against your skin, feel your feet walking in rhythm on the ground like a drumbeat, notice the tiny buds beginning to sprout on the trees, watch the movement of the clouds. If it’s raining, look for those gorgeous reflections in puddles and the way the raindrops cascade down leaves (or windshields)…
Yeah, I know, sounds simple. But it’s powerful because it brings you back to the present. It’s one of the best techniques for getting out of a Mind Loop.
Before long, you’ll feel better. It’s proven – by experience, and by science!
Wishing you a peaceful and yet exhilarating beginning to your New Year!
NOTES & CREDITS:
¹J. Paul Hamilton, Kevin Hahn, “Nature Experience Reduces Rumination and Subgenual Prefrontal Cortex Activation”; http://news.stanford.edu/2015/06/30/hiking-mental-health-063015/
²Park, Tsunetsugu, Kasetani, Kagawa, Miyazaki, “The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan,” Environ Health Prev Med. 2010 Jan;15(1):18-26. doi: 10.1007/s12199-009-0086-9; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19568835
Thanks to www.HealingForest.org for the gorgeous film!
Photo of me with the humongous fig tree by Jim Jordan
Photo of the forest by Martino Pietropoli via StockSnap