By Terri Griffith, LPC, Behavioral Health Consultant at Fordland Clinic
Have you noticed higher than normal stress levels these days? Maybe you have felt more irritable. Irritability may be easy to recognize in others, but what about in ourselves? Does it seem as if the smallest things annoy you? Maybe you are becoming angry or feeling aggravated or frustrated by things that would not normally bother you. Hmmm…could this be stress?
Someone asked me recently what I was going to do this weekend. I knew part of my weekend would be spent outside; this is one thing that helps me to de-stress. Have you ever noticed that after spending time outdoors you feel better; maybe happier or more relaxed? There is a good reason for this! Research shows that our environment can play a role in our stress levels and have an impact on our mood and body functioning.
Researchers have been studying this very idea for some time, and have found that just spending 20-30 minutes outside, 3 days a week can have a huge impact on our mental and physical health. Studies have found a multitude of health benefits linked with being in nature. Some of these include reduced blood pressure, lower heart rate, reduced muscle tension and a decrease in the production of stress hormones, even reduced mortality has been found.
Other studies have shown exposure to nature promotes healing and helps with pain reduction and discomfort in patients recovering from surgery. An increased attention span in kids diagnosed with ADHD has even been reported. Some findings reveal we may be able to achieve some of the same benefits by just viewing scenes from nature.
There is so much more! Below are a few links giving more insight into this research.
It really is possible to reduce our stress levels by simply incorporating nature into our everyday lives. Hopefully, you will find this evidence compelling enough to try yourself and notice that just by making one small change, it not only eases your stress through these crazy times, but that you will recognize the benefit and be able to use this throughout your life. There will always be stress in our lives, we cannot eliminate all of it; but we can learn to manage it, and hopefully prevent chronic stress that can be so damaging.
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If you are feeling stress in your life, Terri can work with you and your primary care provider at Fordland Clinic as a team to consider the physical, behavioral, and emotional aspects of your health concerns. Together with you, they can help to determine a course of action for the best integrated health care plan so you will be able to develop skills to effectively manage stress in your daily life.