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Connecting with Nature for Greater Health & Happiness

Updated: Jun 22

June 2024


As summer approaches in Canada, I can't help but express gratitude. After a long winter, waking up to natural light daily is a welcome change. The abundance of life all around during this season also feels like a luxurious gift, a feast for the senses.


In front of our house, our mature magnolia tree recently treated us to its stunning spring dress, a sight we eagerly anticipate for 51 weeks of every year! Returning birds have also been peering in from my office window ledge as if to say "Hi, I'm back!".


Nature Supports Our Wellbeing

Scientific studies have objectively shown that nature is innately able to enhance both our physical well-being and mental health.

There was a time, not so long ago, when being outdoors posed a significant health risk for me because of my Multiple Environmental and Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). The spring and summer seasons were particularly challenging, and MCS basically kept me indoors, but thankfully, my health issues were successfully reversed and I can now enjoy the outdoors again... from the outdoors!


But, until I could reach this point, I discovered a variety of ways of bringing nature's health benefits inside my home in a safe way that didn't trigger my MCS or make my fibromyalgia symptoms worse. So, keep reading because this is what this blog will also help you accomplish, wherever you may currently be on your health journey!


Airflow

Increased airflow leads to cleaner air quality. The EPA states that indoor air pollution levels can be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels, resulting in significantly increased health hazards compared to outdoor air.


Good airflow cleans the air, both in and outdoors, significantly reducing the concentration of air pollution, chemicals, toxins, allergens, pollen, mold spores, and more. Without proper airflow, these airborne elements remain stagnant and accumulate, which can impede our breathing, trigger asthma attacks, allergies, increase your body burden and environmental sensitivities. It can also weaken our immune system and increase general inflammation in our bodies. Without proper air flow, all of this can worsen your fibromyalgia and MCS symptoms.


This is the reason why the medical environmental specialist who diagnosed my MCS recommended a move away from our forested neighborhood where we had lived for 18 years and closer to the water, to help alleviate my symptoms. Since living near a lake, I can say that he was right.


Oxygen and Negative Ions

More airflow also means more oxygen in the air and more negative ions. These ions are abundantly found in environments close to water, sunlight, and greenery. They improve overall well-being, sleep, energy, cognitive abilities, relaxation, and better mood, as well as support detoxification and the repair and healing of our body's cells and tissues. All of this can also decrease the intensity of our symptoms and reduce pain. So being outdoors, near a source of water like a lake or waterfall, walking barefoot on the ground or grass, touching flowers, or even hugging a tree can help you feel better.


Sunlight

Although the sun's UV rays have caused some concern in recent years, it's actually essential for our health to have some exposure to sunlight in order to operate optimally. Research has shown that as little as 15 minutes of daily sunlight exposure of our skin without sunscreen is enough to give us these health benefits:


  • Generate serotonin and vitamin D, enhancing our mood, overall health, and cognitive abilities. It plays a crucial role in managing our emotions, appetite, and digestion, while also diminishing stress, anxiety, and depression.

  • Serotonin contributes to the regulation of our circadian rhythm, which is responsible for our sleep-wake patterns, helping us take on the new day.

  • Vitamin D improves our immune system functions and decreases inflammation in the body.

  • The quantity of serotonin and vitamin D produced is directly linked to the amount of time spent basking in bright sunlight.


Sensory Immersion

Scientific studies on nature therapy and the traditional Japanese practice of Forest Bathing called “Shinrin-Yoku (SY)” were done with people with chronic diseases such as hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic heart failure, and chronic stroke. They found many positive psychological and physiological health benefits:

  • Participants reported feeling more energetic, experiencing better overall health, and finding greater meaning in life.

  • The Global Wellness Institute references a 2017 National Taiwan University study that found 2 hours of forest bathing led to changes in autonomic nervous system activity. This is good news for helping us reduce the fight-or-flight mode we tend to be stuck in with fibromyalgia and MCS, greatly helping us improve our symptoms and overall well-being.

  • It reduces pain response, cortisol, pulse rate, cholesterol, and diabetes risk. It also regulates blood pressure, blood glucose, endocrine activity, boosts immunity, treats respiratory diseases, relieves mental disorders, and even fights cancer.

  • Psychology research has found the color green to be calming, soothing, and motivating. It can reduce stress, cortisol levels, depression, sadness, and hopelessness, and improve the sleep-wake cycle, sleep, motivation, cognitive functions like concentration,creativity, and communication, and overall well-being.


Oxygen's Beneficial Negative Ions

  • Enhance oxygen flow to the brain, improving alertness and mental clarity.

  • Increase serotonin levels, known as the 'happy hormone', which can reduce depression, relieve stress, and boost energy.

  • Antimicrobial properties that can help reduce inflammation and enhance overall athletic performance.

  • Cleanse the air by binding to pollutants and allergens, alleviating allergy and asthma symptoms.


Safely Bring Nature Inside Your Home

You can bring the benefits of nature right into your home. Here are some simple ways:


1. Enhance Airflow

  • Open windows for at least 30 minutes each morning to let in fresh air.

  • Install an air purifier in your HVAC system to effectively clean the air .

  • Consider a floor air purifier with ionizer settings, combining air purification with negative ion generation .

  • Look for air purifiers with built-in fans designed to circulate negatively charged air in the room.


2. Embrace Green

  • Integrate nature's main colour into your home decor, whether through painting walls or wallpapering with a soothing green, such as sage, or incorporating green accents.

  • Opt for wallpapered murals featuring verdant green forests, meadows, or parks to bring a feel of nature indoors that will soothe your mind and body inside your home as if you had just gone out for a forest walk or hike.


3. Harness Nature's Energy Indoors

  • Welcome Sunlight: Start your day by opening your blinds to let natural sunlight fill your home. This also helps increase serotonin levels, boosting your mood for the day, especially if you do this within the first 15 minutes of waking up in the morning. Spend 20-30 minutes on an outside deck between 8 AM and 4 PM without sunscreen to naturally enhance serotonin and vitamin D production through your skin.

  • Bring in Indoor Plants: Incorporate various plants, including air-purifying ones like bamboo palms, snake plant, aloe vera, peace lily, gerbera, chrysanthemum, and spider plants, to improve air quality indoors.

  • Connect with Earthing: If you can't ground yourself by standing barefoot on the ground outside, then using earthing mats and products have been shown to help reduce systemic inflammation, improve sleep quality and mood.

  • Install an Indoor Water Fountain: The flow of water releases negative ions in the air, which can reduce allergies and asthma symptoms while creating a calming atmosphere.

  • Enjoy Water-Based Relaxation: Take pleasure in a warm shower, Epsom salt bath, or hot tub soak to release negative ions through water movement.

  • Explore Negative Ion Generators: These devices charge air molecules to produce negative ions, thereby improving the air quality within your home.


4. Regular Technology Detox

Electrical and electronic technology release a lot of positive ions in our indoor spaces. They can cause inflammation, mood swings, worsen allergies, cognitive and immune issues, and trigger anxiety and fatigue. So, bring negative ions in the home and do the following:


  • Protect your sleep-wake cycle by blocking the blue light from your computer screen, TV, and cell phone, and other screens early every evening. Blue light mimics the morning light, it wakes up our brain to produce serotonin for the day's activities, while the setting sunlight has a warm orange glow. That helps our brain switch to producing melatonin to help us wind down and prepare for a good night's sleep. So, it really helps to set those screen timers to tone down the blue light early in the evening, and to wear the blue light cancelling goggles as early as possible ias well.

  • Create Tech-Free Zones: Keep technology out of your bedroom and avoid proximity to charging devices, as they emit large amounts of unhealthy positive ions during charging.

  • Minimize Exposure: Unplug devices and shut down Wi-Fi when not in use, especially at night to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF).

  • Schedule Digital Detoxes: Power down and disconnect from technology periodically for your body to rest and rejuvenate.


By incorporating these simple practices into your daily routine, you can create a healthier and more balanced living environment while reducing the negative impact of technology and stagnant indoor air on your well-being. These practices will further support your goals of gradually improving your health, regardless of whether your fibromyalgia and/or MCS symptoms currently allow you to go outdoors. Connecting with nature directly, or creating that connection indoors, is truly essential to your health and well-being.



Take care... gentle hug,

Gisèle xo


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