Click to listen to the audio…
Timing the de-stressing benefits of nature
Don’t STRESS so much.
This is advice that often comes from well meaning people in your life. But, if your life is S-T-R-E-S-S-F-U-L, the advice is anything but helpful.
Let’s face it, you don’t NEED to be told to stress less, you need practical help.
You need a fairy godmother……
A fairy godmother to the rescue
- to do one or more of the myriad of tasks, that need doing NOW
- to wave a magic wand and make the source of your stress, disappear.
Or failing this, to sprinkle a little fairy dust on you, transforming you from a mere mortal, to a human with super powers, to press through.
The problem is, fairy godmother’s are thin on the ground.
But…………… they do exist.
They use “dust” to do their magic
Unfortunately, fairy godmother’s are constrained by the laws of nature – so you’ll still have to do, what needs to be done and deal, with the stressors, but you’ll be empowered to do so.
The magic is in the dust !
The stress response
Now the body comes with half a dozen stress management systems, some are designed to cope with stressful moments, while others are designed to deal with the stress of living.
The most famous of these is cortisol.
Cortisol specializes in the stress of living.
And getting out of bed, every morning is S-T-R-E-S-S-F-U-L, even for people who wake up with a sunny disposition.
Cortisol makes this transition, bearable……
Cortisol is a morning hormone
He kick starts your biology, helping you start your day and once you’re up and going, he quietly withdraws……….
Leaving you to get on with life.
Until, the next morning, when he again puts in an appearance, to get you up and going.
Cortisol is ON CALL
And if the situation calls for it, he’ll step in and help.
The trouble is, his help can be a little overbearing.
So, you want some cortisol, not too much, not too little. And you want your dose of cortisol, early in the morning.
In the seriously stressed, cortisol is elevated, pretty much ALL THE TIME.
So scientists often use cortisol, as a proxy for stress levels.
Higher is bad. Lower is good.
But is it complicated, because cortisol levels are a moving target – timing is EVERYTHING. This makes establishing if something is de-stressing, in “normal” life, rather hard.
It can be done in laboratory settings, but whether this applies to REAL LIFE or not, is somewhat debatable.
A dose of “fairy dust”
Lucky for us, a team of researchers found a way, to do it…….
And thanks to their efforts, I can now share with you, precisely what you need to do, to procure the services of a stress relieving fairy godmother, to improve your body chemistry, IN REAL LIFE.
Let’s start with the basics…………….
The nature of a fairy godmother
Stress relieving fairy godmothers, duck and dive among the birds and the bees, and the flowers and the trees.
They’re in NATURE.
Everyone knows, being in nature reduces stress. Well it does for most people. That is why some doctors prescribe “green pills”, to their stressed out patients.
How much nature ?
Up until now, just how much nature is needed to see the stress relieving benefits, has not been clear.
Is it 2 minutes, 20 minutes, 2 hours or 2 days ?
By carefully timing the measurement of cortisol levels, in 36 city slickers, experiencing nature in real life, our team was able to put a number on, how much nature is needed.
Time in nature
Now what is significant about this study, is our city slickers enjoyed nature ON THEIR TERMS. Picking the when, where and what, based on their lifestyle and personal preferences.
There were some rules.
No running, jumping or throwing. No reading. No cell phones.
The nature experience had to occur during the day, and last for at least 10 minutes.
Measuring the effects of fairy dust
Immediately before and after, the “nature experience”, cortisol levels were measured, using a DIY kit, which involved chewing on cotton wool balls for a minute or two and then spitting them into special tubes.
Here is plot of what they found….
The blue line, shows what would happen to cortisol levels under normal circumstances. Remember cortisol should be tracking lower as the day progresses. The red line shows, what happens when a little nature is thrown into the mix.
You can see the cortisol dips lower.
The dip amounts to a 21.3 % per hour drop in cortisol, beyond the 11.7 % drop which would be normally experienced.
No stress nature
A glance at the plot, suggests 5 minutes of nature, is not enough to make an appreciable difference.
To get bang for your buck, you want to shoot for 20 to 30 minutes.
Longer will give more benefit, but if you’re pushed for time, and who isn’t, then 20 to 30 minutes is the sweet spot.
So if you want to create better body chemistry…..
Go green for at least 20 minutes.
The “love” of things NATURAL, is hardwired into the human brain. Young and old, rich and poor benefit from green medicine. So do babes in the womb.
As the world move online, green moments are becoming increasingly redundant, but a daily dose of green medicine, is essential for human health
Looking for a bit of a pick me up but you’re on a tight budget ? Just take a walk PERIOD, it will clear your memory and stop sinking thinking