Creating connections through the outdoors.

Health

Medication for Your Daily Work-Out

This basically says it all, and remember to take daily!

I don’t believe that we are overmedicalized on the above, but check out this video on the topic:

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Redundancy: The Redundant Nature of Being Redundant

Lets start things off be defining the word ‘redundancy‘.  Here is what the dictionary has to say:

re-dun-dan-cy [ri-duhn-duhn-see], noun

1. the state of being redundant

Hmmm…

Interesting that this is the first thing that comes up.  Let’s see what else our great knowledge has to say:

2. superfluous repetition or overlapping

Ok, that seems better.  It explains a little more.

So why am I talking about redundancy and being redundant?  Recently, I have realized that we are being told the same thing over and over and over again.  This comes in different forms, but the message behind it is very similar each time.  This is especially true when it comes to our health.  The mainstream media and professionals all over the world, as well as our general knowledge, are telling us that we need to be making changes in the way we are living our lives.  How many different ways can people tell us what we should be doing?  How many creative ways can we pass on basically the same information?  There are problems when we hear the same thing over and over again.  The main one is that we begin to ignore the message and just end up sticking with our current habits.

We all know that the outdoors are good for our health and keeping active has a lot of positive benefits including helping with mental clarity.  Those three articles basically are saying the same thing, just in a different way and using different studies.  The outdoors and keeping active is good for us and society as a whole.  I have said this all before, so I am not going to go into too much depth.  What I am going to say is that we all know changes are needed, and a constant reminder can have a negative effect on making those changes happen.  We tune out when we feel as if we are being nagged.  What can we do to make sure that positive changes do happen?  I don’t have an answer that will work for everyone.  Creativity is what is needed.  That, along with a flexibility that can be adjusted for different people with different personalities and overall needs.

Instead of trying to drive the point of health home by a constant reminder and guilt-tripping, I think we need to put things through a different lens.  We need to try looking at things differently.  I say, let’s experiment, what is the worst that could happen?


And the survey says…

So I want to be healthy and happy.  What do I need to do?  I should start by eating healthy.  Ok, to do that, I need to avoid processed foods, fast food, foods with lots of sugar, red meat, some types of fish, and saturated fat.  Well maybe I don’t need to avoid saturated fat if it comes from certain sources.  Wait a minute, my diet should be low in carbs, high in protein, and vegetarian, no vegan, but I can have meat once a week and fish is ok.  Is it?  I can’t eat too much fish now because it is being overfished.  Before I forget, I can treat myself to the occasional “junk food”.  Is this going to cause me to lose weight?  What if I want to gain weight?  I am supposed to eat more meat now, and include superfoods (What is the effect of Kryptonite on these?).  Should all of this be organic or local?  It should be both, but if I need to choose local is better than organic for the planet, and organic is better for my body.  Now I also need to make sure I drink lots of water and for best physical performance I should calculate how much I need based on a number of factors.  Diuretics are bad, but coffee and tea are good.  Ok, I have my diet figured out, I think.  Oh, I can also drink alcohol because it will make me smarter.  However, I can only drink so much.  Red wine is the best, but other kinds of alcohol are good too.  Isn’t alcohol also a diuretic?  This one is for sure, I shouldn’t smoke and I should exercise regularly.  I need to reduce the amount of time I spend sitting, take at least 5000 steps a day and exercise for at least 30 minutes.  I also need to spend time relaxing and not doing anything.  Now, to be happy I should have a bucket list, not compare myself to others, and have a job that is fulfilling and challenging.  I can’t work too much though, but I should work until I am 67 years old.  I should quit my current job and do something that I enjoy.  No I shouldn’t.  I enjoy what I do, mostly, and it allows me to do what I enjoy to do.  I need a routine, or is it that I need to be spontaneous?  Too much technology is bad, I need to disconnect, but it is also good to stay connected, to help reduce stress.  I can also use it as a tool for work and learning.  Now what I also need to do…

THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!!  I’m going to just do what I enjoy: Go outside, live a balanced lifestyle and treat myself accordingly.

Trying to follow all of the studies that come out these days can cause us a great deal of extra stress and worry.  They are also always changing and new ones are coming out every day.  I can’t keep them straight and why should I try to?  Life is more enjoyable when I just live with balance.  April is stress awareness month, so do something you enjoy and don’t worry if you treat yourself occasionally.  Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.  Studies are not all bad.  They give us insight into things we may have forgotten along the way.  However, they are not to be relied on.  I do know this for sure and have done my own study to prove this: The outdoors is good for me.  How do I know?  Going outside helps me relax, keeps me active and is enjoyable.

This weeks idea:  Do your own study.  Go outside, treat yourself and relax.  See how it makes you feel.  As with any study, write down your results and share them with others.  This should be the only study that you follow (The following video has some pretty good advice too)!


Forest Bathing

Almost every day, I go for a bath in the forest.  I find it relaxing, good for my health, and puts me in a better mood.  There are so many nice things about bathing in the woods.  The bubbles, the hot water, sitting there in the tub among the trees with my rubber ducky…

Ok, maybe it isn’t exactly like that, but I do spend a lot of time forest bathing.  In actuality, it is more scientific than whimsical.  The Japanese have used the term forest bathing” or “shinrin-yoku to describe a kind of forest therapy that involves spending time in natural forest environments.  Studies behind spending time in natural areas show that the body has a number of powerful hormonal responses.  These include protective factors against depression and anxiety and have been shown to reduce the symptoms of ADD and ADHD.  Some studies suggest that these positive effects are cause by the phytoncydes or natural wood oils that trees give off to help to ward of pests.  When we are exposed to these, it is shown to lower blood pressure and heart rates, while strengthening the immune system and increasing our sensory perceptions.  Other studies have even shown that these natural antibodies fight off cancer growth.  These positive benefits have been shown to last for upwards of a month!  All this from just spending time in forests.  Does this change your plans for the weekend?

Even for you skeptics out there, just spending time away from it all in a natural setting has a lot of these same effects on your body and mind.  A disconnection from the commotion of an artificial environment for a time will lower your blood pressure, and help to clear your mind.  Our senses become more engaged in an evolutionary kind of way, different from the way that they are engaged in our modern environments.  This creates the balance that I stressed upon in the last post.  There are also the added benefits of preserving natural areas.  There isn’t any harm in spending time in the forest, and you don’t actually have to tell people that you are forest bathing.

I feel that I can go on and on about all of the health benefits involved with spending some time in the outdoors.  From the cost saving benefits of not paying for a gym membership to go and exercise to all of the psychological benefits of reconnecting with our evolutionary roots, and even including increased cognitive prowess.  We are so focussed on diet and exercise in today’s society, along with the environment, poverty, the economy, sustainability, work, and the list goes on (Just read the news).  The outdoors is a major part of that all as well, but fails to get the attention it deserves.  It is our evolutionary background and helps us sort through it all.  Everything is way more difficult when we are not feeling well.  Things seem to begin to fall apart at the seems.  If we can help things out and think clearer for free just by spending time outside in natural areas, let’s do it!  All of the biggest ideas and discoveries also come from the smallest of things.  The people who came up with them just thought a little bit harder about it.  Nature can lend us a helping hand.

Hopefully I have managed to get you thinking (which you will be able to do better in the outdoors!) and begin to make small changes for the better.  It may seem like another thing to add to the list of things that will make you healthy, but as I have said before: It is all about creating balance.  I know that I will continue to spend time in the outdoors, as I have seen all the benefits it has done for my health.  I may also see something new along the trail I take every day at work in the forest, or I may see nothing new at all.  That can keep things exciting and why I plan to continue to take part in forest bathing.

Now it is time for my idea of the week: This week I want you to share some of the things that you learned here in this post, or through exploring any of the links above.  A big market for this is youth in today’s society.  They are the most separated from the natural world and connected to technology.  Share the information with adults because youth will just tune you out.  Instead, show youth the benefits by doing something new and exiting in a natural space.  From before: Be creative!

I’ll leave you with this video trailer:

(Theme: Health)