If you are like most North Americans, you spent the majority of your day inside, in a car, in an office, at a computer, or on your smart phone. You may have managed to have one proper meal involving canned soup or some other kind of processed food that you put in the microwave and heated up. Maybe you actually did some exercises by running on the treadmill or taking an aerobics class at your local gym. The likelihood, though, is after your workout you went straight to your smart phone to check Facebook and you probably ate while looking at it all together.
Are you aware that researchers are finding that there is a strong correlation with more screen time and higher incidences of depression and anxiety, poor performance and attention deficit? And even more interesting, did you know that in contrast, in studies involving mentally fatigued adults, a walk (for a little less than an hour) in a vegetation-rich urban park (vs. city streets) significantly improved mental performance? Indeed, similar findings have been reported in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Research shows that views to nature improve cognitive performance and fatigue symptoms.
So think about it?
How would you describe your energy level? Your mood? Your ability to concentrate or take pleasure in the simple facets of life?
You could feel much, much better simply by adding a bit more nature into your life—being in it more, eating it more, looking at it and even smelling it.
Ancient healers, including Greek physicians, used aromatic plant chemicals to stimulate or to sedate. Today, we find this ancient healing modality in aromatherapy, where plant aromas are used to enhance relaxation or to offer other healing benefits. New science is confirming the benefits of aromatherapy–rosemary and
Lemon oil, for instance can influence the brain by stimulating it, while lavender and rose oil can sedate. Peppermint has been reported to improve typing speed and accuracy, lessen fatigue, and increase attention and memory. Why is this so? Scientists have long recognized the nasal passage as a potential route of administering medication because it is a direct route to the brain. We have this passageway for a reason, and most likely, it was for nature’s aroma’s to have their various effects on our health and brain. Nature provides a multitude of chemicals that provoke our olfactory (nasal) senses and that can balance mental outlook and facilitate focus and attention. Your sense of smell may or may not detect these chemicals, but they still will have their effect. Some chemicals will stimulate, some will relax or sedate the brain. Put together, these chemicals are called “phytoncides.” Some experimental studies have shown that phytoncides produced by trees can lower the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, lower anxiety and change pain thresholds. The higher level of phytoncides in the air, the more anti-cancer cells can be produced. Am I telling you to go out and inhale some peppermint? Not necessarily. I am telling you to spend more time in nature and allow nature’s aromas to heal your mind and body. And, consider keeping some of nature’s smells nearby and handy. If, for example, you have a tendency to get “road rage” or you are about to go on a long drive, consider keeping some peppermint or cinnamon aromatherapy around to help you lower your frustration level while improving your ability to be alert. If you are having trouble relaxing at night, consider using lavender or jasmine.
But in short, if you value your health, spend more time, at least 20 minutes, in nature—garden, go for walks, stare out the window, buy some new plants and nurture them. Simple acts such as keeping a plant in your office, sitting by a window, or having a scene of nature that you can gaze at every now and then, have been found to be associated with better health.
You can even make an effort to do this at least for a few days and see if your energy level or mood improve.
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