Blog Written by Maria Reusing
How can nature improve your mindset?
Activating the four elements of nature to help you feel your best…
The four elements of nature air, water, earth, and fire are referred to throughout human history as powerful forces within our lives and in our own bodies. In the time of Hippocrates and Galen it was agreed upon that the elements had a primary role in our health; and the imbalance of the elements in the body is what would lead to disease. Today, modern medicine has turned to other methods of treatment; however, recent research studies have been finding more and more connections to these old beliefs. Spending time in nature helps us to feel grounded, relaxed, and present. Here are some ways incorporating the elements of nature into your life will help improve your mindset.
Yoga hikes, forest bathing, walking barefoot, molding clay, or planting flowers, gardens are a few examples that help us to totally
engage with the earth element. Studies have shown these activities to decrease stress and depression and improve general health and perceived well-being. Direct contact with the earth can also help develop your microbiome.
Incorporating the element of fire into life can be as simple as absorbing the sunlight on a beautiful day and holding a sun- warmed rock. Another idea for the winter time is to spend some time in a sauna. Sunlight has been proven to help boost your mood, energy, and levels of vitamin D.
Furthermore, spending time in a sauna or a hot environment has positive outcomes for those with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, respiratory illness, and dementia. Spending some time outside on a hot sunny day can be rejuvenating. Just remember to stay hydrated!
The calming effect of water can be incorporated into your life by simply staying hydrated which will help you stave off headaches and keep your mind functioning optimally. There is also evidence that bathing in natural bodies of water of mineral springs decreases the stress hormone cortisol, decreases the feelings of anxiety, and promotes general relaxation of the body.
Clean, fresh, outdoor air can enhance any pranayama or breathing exercise. Air pollution has been shown to affect rates of depression as well had negative effects on the central nervous system. Just like the elements earth, fire and water, focusing on the air you breathe and how you breathe can have positive mental health benefits. Breathing exercises such as those done during yoga and meditation can help reduce anxiety, depression and stress.
As you can see, finding ways to get back to nature is great for your health. To learn more about the research discussed in this article check out “Harnessing the Four Elements for Mental Health” by Sarris, Manincor, Hargraves, and Tsonis.