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Reconnecting with Nature: The Healing Power of the Great Outdoors

Updated: 1 day ago

After spending the last ten days in the grand and beautiful state of Colorado, I am feeling renewed and refreshed. My partner and I used to live in the blue sky state just a few years ago, so for our trip this year, we decided to spend it in one of our favorite states. We saw our favorite band, Lord Huron, at Red Rocks, ate at our favorite restaurants like Cafe 13 and Santiago's, and spent time with our closest friends. Those parts of my trip were incredible, no doubt, but the single most meaningful thing I did while out there was spend time in nature.


hiking in colorado

Nature is the natural world, and often we forget about the natural world. From the sterile white boxes we call our homes to the technology we use daily to the cars we drive to and from, we are bombarded by stimuli and distractions that set our nervous system awry and hinder our perception of reality. Most of us live a large portion of our time on earth under artificial lighting, artificial cooling and heating systems, and are engaged in artificial reality. We often mistake the digital world (Instagram, Netflix, TikTok) for the real world. However entertaining it is to mindlessly scroll or get a 100 likes, this is not the real essence of life. The real world is what you see when you step out your front door. It is the leaves rustling in the wind, the birds chirping, the sun warming your shoulder blades, and the gentle breeze that graces your face. Nature is a part of us, and nature heals us, and no, this is not just a cliché phrase you find on pillows in Home Goods. It is empirically proven through numerous research studies. There are many ways in which nature heals, but for the sake of our short attention spans (you can thank technology for that), I will focus on my three personal favorite ways in which nature gives back to us in the form of total body wellness.


To start us off, I would like to discuss the Schumann Resonance. The Earth's natural frequency is called the Schumann Resonance, which pulsates at a rate of 7.83 hertz. Schumann resonance enhances the body’s natural healing processes and reduces stress and inflammation. One study concluded that extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) have promising effects on wound healing by effectively modulating various phases(1). This can only mean one thing: nature works synergistically with our bodies. I can remember a time when the idea of going on a hike sounded like something that "wasn’t for me." I tired easily, spent most of my childhood working on a farm, and had no desire to walk for fun. I liked the idea of being "productive," and considering at the time I felt there was no direct benefit from hiking other than casual exercise, it just wasn’t my thing. However, this all changed when I moved to Colorado in 2020. That first hike in Rocky Mountain State Park shifted my entire outlook on nature and what it provides. I remember we were slightly irritated on the way to the hike because I tend to be a backseat driver. We got to the trailhead, ready to embark on our first serious hike. We were still a bit irritable, but after about 20 minutes, we noticed a calmness fall over us. We felt relaxed, happy, and at ease. Since then, we have done hundreds of hikes. The one I am most particularly proud of is climbing The DeCaLiBron. We put over ten miles under our boots and summited FOUR 14,000-foot peak mountains that day. No easy feat, but after working our way towards such a venture, we could not have felt more altered. I described it as a medicine walk. There were hard parts and there were euphoric parts. It was altogether an experience that had lasting effects on our perceptions and attitudes towards life. I still hike at least 1-2 times a month, and what I look forward to the most upon completion of a hike is the dopamine high. Being in the schumann's resonance has a significant impact on our brains, releasing dopamine and serotonin - neurotransmitters that regulate mood and instigate happiness. These are often the same hormones targeted by antidepressants (2). Being in nature for an extended period has significant positive effects on our body. When our body is taken away from all the stimuli, crazy frequencies emitted by modern-day technology, and placed in the earth's frequency for extended periods of time, we begin to feel what “wellness” truly feels like.


The second way in which nature heals us is the presence and role trees play in our lives. I love trees, a tree hugger if you will. No, I am not kidding; I literally hug trees, and you should too. Here’s why: Research shows that spending time around trees can reduce stress, improve immunity, lower blood pressure, and accelerate recovery from illness or trauma. Furthermore, when you hug a tree, you release a hormone called oxytocin – known as the hormone of love and trust – which gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling (3).  Humans and trees are far more connected than the average human realizes. Humans inhale oxygen and exhale CO2, and trees inhale CO2 and exhale oxygen. We are in this ever-flowing gaseous exchange with these giant sentient plants.


Trees support our single most pressing need as humans, our need for oxygen. We can go weeks without food and days without water, but we cannot go more than three minutes without oxygen.

So yes, it may seem curious to others when people chain themselves to trees in protest against deforestation, but I think those folks are certainly looking out for our best interest, not the corporations devastating our forests. We owe so much respect and reverence to trees. It is sad that “Tree Hugger” has become a taboo phrase and is connected to people writing you off for being a “Hippie” or a “Whacko.” The truth is, if you hug a tree, some people are going to look, some will laugh, but whose nervous system is going to be singing the sweet song of wellness at the end of the day? Yours, my friend, so let them judge. 


At the end of the day, nature is what we come from. We are all carbon-based life forms derived from the same material that comprises the very soil under our feet. Which brings me to my last favorite way to heal in nature: grounding.


According to The Earthing Institute, time connected to the ground can improve sleep, lower inflammation, ease stress, improve blood flow, and boost physical healing, to name a few.(4) All that just from walking barefoot on the ground!

Often we put more faith in hard and fast solutions like prescriptions (not to say they are not necessary because for certain cases, they absolutely are), and by default, we overlook the power that subtle modalities can have on our wellness. Subtleties like going for a walk in a wooded area can make a bad day not too bad after all. Being in nature reminds you that just being is enough. Just existing is the point. Yes, we still get to have our fancy achievements and purposes and sparks, but sometimes we just need to go home to the forest to remember that, at the end of the day, we are whole just as we are. Let us humble ourselves in the face of a great and wise nature that has been here billions of years before us.


The next time you are feeling down and you want to drown your sorrows with a bottle of wine or crawl into a dark hole and mindlessly scroll through social media, remember these three powerful ways in which nature can help balance out your mind, body, and soul (and it’s FREE). You can gain the benefits that the Schumann Resonance provides just by stepping outside. Spend an extended period outside and get that dopaminergic state as the beautiful cherry on top. And while you’re on that little dopamine walk, hug a tree for a minute or two and get that oxytocin fill. Then when you get back near your house, take a seat in a grassy area, plop those shoes off, and ground your feet into the damp yet inviting soil. Voila, you feel a million times better. It may sound silly, but to those of you who have a relationship with nature, you know what I am talking about. If what I am saying is new for you, that’s okay too. But just promise me after reading this, you will go sit under a tree or perhaps sit on your front porch and listen to the birds, all while remembering you are perfect just as you are. Breathe in the great outdoors and let yourself feel peace.



Author: Mickey Hardy  






References:


  1. Sorauer, D. (2023, March 10). Impact of Schumann Resonance on Human Health. Recovery Systems.

  2. Sanders, S. (2023, August 11). Why does Hiking Make me Happy? Gearlanders.com

  3. Try forest bathing or tree-hugging | Scottish Wildlife Trust. (2024, May 31). Scottish Wildlife Trust. 

  4. Fischer, K. (2024, May 3). Grounding: Techniques and Benefits. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/grounding-benefits




Disclaimer:

This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts. 




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