3 Ways To Harness The Healing Power Of Nature — And How To Give Back In Return
There's no denying that our health is intrinsically connected to the health of the planet. Without clean air to breathe, nutritious foods to eat, and biodiversity to keep the ecosystems functioning, we would cease to exist. Nature heals and grounds us after the stress of modern life pulls us further away from well-being. So when we think of wellness, Mother Earth is a necessary factor in the equation.
As we enter into warmer months, we'd like to encourage our community to harness the healing power of nature by practicing wellness outdoors and giving back. So we've rounded up three of our favorite ways to use nature for wellness, each accompanied by an action that supports the Earth in return. We'll also be dressing the part with Columbia Sportswear's 100% compostable Break It Down T-Shirt—it's the perfect eco-conscious uniform!
But first: Mother Earth needs us now more than ever.
It's no secret that we've been in a parasitic relationship with our planet for a while now. To take it back to biology class, parasitism is a symbiotic relationship in which one organism, the parasite, lives off of another organism, the host, harming it in the process. Because of our modern lifestyles, much of the Earth is suffering.
At the current rate of deforestation, we're losing about 30 soccer fields' worth of forest a minute. That means the 1.6 billion people around the world who depend on forests for their livelihoods are in trouble. Deforestation also contributes to global warming1, threatens biodiversity, throws off rainfall and weather patterns, and limits our access to the plants that provide us with as many as 120 prescription drugs worldwide.
How to show up for yourself and the planet.
With all this said, it's not too late to intervene. For example, Columbia has partnered with Conservation International to secure irreplaceable forest ecosystems, restore degraded forests, and protect critical wildlife habitats. We, too, can do our part as individuals to reverse the damage. Let's show our love and appreciation not only by embracing the healing powers of Mother Nature but also by thanking her with the TLC she deserves. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
For you: Bathe among the trees.
If you're not already familiar with forest bathing, or "shinrin-yoku," it is the Japanese practice of moving slowly and mindfully through a forest environment, homing in on all five senses along the way. The experience has not only been associated with increased parasympathetic nervous system activity2 and heightened immunity3, but the terpenes inhaled throughout the woods have also been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and neuroprotective properties4.
For the Earth: Donate to an environmental organization.
While any environmental organization will do, this year we're joining in Columbia's fight to protect our forests by donating to Conservation International. Columbia has set their own goal of helping to protect 1.7 million trees by 2027—let's make that one, two, three-plus trees more by donating here.
For you: Tune in to the Earth's frequency.
"Earthing" is the practice of walking or standing barefoot on the Earth in order to connect to its innate healing energies. According to NASA, the Earth has its own frequency of about 8 hertz, caused by the electric currents of lightning interacting with the Earth's atmosphere. Connecting to this frequency has been shown to ease pain and inflammation5, lessen cardiovascular risks, boost mood6, and lower blood pressure7.
For the Earth: Plant a tree.
Conserving our forests is priority No. 1, but planting a tree is another important step in the right direction. Not only do trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen so that we can breathe, but they also help to prevent climate change and provide a net cooling effect, per tree, equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating for 20 hours a day.
For you: Go for a hike.
Hiking is a great way to get in some exercise while simultaneously connecting with nature and disconnecting from technology. Make it a social affair by calling up some friends and planning a trip out to a local park. You might even stumble upon some of the other outdoor attractions our national parks have to offer.
For the Earth: Pick up trash along the way.
Whether you pack a trash bag and a pick-up stick to collect trash along your hike or volunteer at an organized Cleanup, show some love for our planet by tidying up our mess. As the old saying goes, let's leave it cleaner than how we found it!
The Earth is constantly giving us all we need to survive and flourish, so it's about time we do the same. In addition to physically taking action, it's important we shop sustainably and support eco-conscious brands, like Columbia, that take steps to respect and preserve natural resources. So this season, grab your Break It Down Tee, head outside, and express your gratitude toward this amazing planet we call home!
Ryan Brady is a Freelance Writer at mindbodygreen. She received her B.A. in Visual Arts from Yale University and her M.A. in Clinical Psychology with concentration in Spirituality and Mind-Body Practice, from Columbia University.
Ryan is passionate about holistic health, fitness, and spiritually-centered living. She loves using her knowledge and personal experience to help others improve their well-being. She brings this passion to her writing, as well as to her work at the wellness centers she owns in Atlanta, GA. When she’s not working, Ryan can be found traveling, spoiling her dog, or experimenting with gluten free, dairy free baking.