By Alex Bruce/Special to The News
An immediate way to increase your overall health and wellness, both physically and emotionally, is to rejuvenate in nature.
The benefits of getting outside are as vast as the sky.
Now that spring is here, the sunshine is too, and we all know that with sunshine comes a healthy dose of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is linked to lowered blood pressure, improved brain functioning, improved sleep, and it has been found to reduce depression and seasonal affective disorder.
While we’re outside, we have an opportunity to breathe in all of that fresh air.
In fact, scientists have found significant improvements in air quality since the pandemic occurred, as less and less people are transitting and pollution from companies has been drastically reduced.
Fresh air cleans our lungs, increases energy levels, strengthens our immune functioning, improves our mood, and has been found to improve digestive abilities.
Nature itself is full of healing and health-promoting benefits, such as reducing stress hormones, which reflects with helping us to have less fear, stress and anger.
Not only does it reduce our stress hormones, but it increases hormones that help us to feel positive emotions, such as joy and gratitude.
It has even been found to reduce pain levels. In fact, even looking at photos of nature has been found to produce these qualities in humans.
Want a quick mood enhancer? Check out this six-minute video that includes nature, beauty and gratitude.
When we go outside, we tend to get exercise while we’re out there, whether we’re walking, running, hiking, swimming, biking or playing.
The benefits of exercise are also countless, which means that nature just keeps giving and giving.
When my family and I were out during the weekend, we saw people rejuvenating in nature in the most wonderful ways.
The new rush hour has replaced cars with kayaks as people were out celebrating life and sunshine in Kanaka Creek and on the Fraser River.
One lovely lady at the Kanaka Creek fish fence had a bucket in one hand, an extended prong for picking up garbage in the other and a huge smile on her face.
Everyone was greeting one another as they safely practised social distancing and walked, ran, or biked past each other on the sidewalks and pathways.
Children could be heard squealing with delight, playing in their yards – and one family had their croquet set out on the local school field.
Nature doesn’t discriminate; rejuvenate with others or by yourself.
Lots of people were out just sitting on benches or leaning against fences, enjoying the sunshine and the sounds of spring.
We are so fortunate in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, where animals abound. The bears, beavers, and birds are all out just waiting to be adored, appreciated and respected.
If you can’t get out, that’s okay too!
Bring some flowers into your home from outside or buy a plant.
Open your window, or post up some pictures of your favourite nature scenes.
And if none of these things are available to you, even just thinking about nature; imagining its beauty and brilliance, still provides you with the majority of these health benefits.
FIRST COLUMN: Maple Ridge woman offers series of wellness tips amid COVID crisis
2nd: We mammals are in this together and will thrive together
3rd: Trying something new can help
4th: Celebrating inclusion in team humanity
5th: Learning to learn at home
6th: Take good care of yourself, so you can care for others
7th: Important to move your butt
8th: Join together in sharing gratitude for Canadians
9th: Ponder a mini vacation and make the best of what’s happening
10th: Taking time to focus on the good in your world
11th: Keeping the faith will make us all stronger in the end
12th: Picturing yourself strong
13th: Taking a few deep breaths
14th: Smile at life and share it around
15th: Naming emotions help free people from those feelings
16th: Send positive thoughts to family, friends, strangers, even pets
17th: Come on back to the present – stop time travelling
18th: It’s time to relax, let stress fade away
– Alex Bruce is a health and wellness author and accredited meditation and mindfulness instructor, and this is excerpt from her: “Let’s Be Calm: The Mental Health Handbook for Surviving and Thriving Through Pandemic”
• Stay tuned tomorrow for the next COVID-19: In It Together column
• If there is more to this column, please let us know about it. Email us at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.