Nature’s Secrets with Dr. Susanne Bennett
On this Episode: Relax your Mind, Body and Spirit in 30 Minutes or Less!
Relax your Mind, Body and Spirit in 30 Minutes or Less!
Dr. Susanne Bennett
Our lives are so stressful; there just isn’t enough time for much self-nurturing behavior out there! Going to a restorative yoga class, sitting still…deep breathing for 30 minutes or chanting mantras may not be right for you.
Maybe you need a relaxation technique that is a bit more spontaneous. My workday is quite hectic, but I still try to spend 20 minutes or so each day on some mind/body self-care.
A quick re-connect with nature, the outdoors can often do the trick for me, and doesn’t cost a thing. A side benefit is getting just the right amount of my daily Vitamin D!
Today on Nature’s Secrets, I am going to share 5 simple but powerful strategies I have found that can really make a difference in relaxing your mind, body and spirit:
- Essential Oils
- Forest Bathing
- Oxygenate! (Dr. Susanne’s Favorite Deep Breathing Exercise)
#1 : What is Earthing?
In my book The 7-Day Allergy Makeover, in chapter 7, it is all about Cleaning up your stress, and I talk about Earthing… Sometimes called Vitamin G for “grounding” refers to the process of bringing the human body in direct contact with the negative electric charge of the earth’s surface and its inherent energy. Our ancestors spent every moment of their lives barefoot and connected to the earth and nature.
Our bodies adapted to receiving electrical energy from the earth, and it remains beneficial to our well-being and sense of belonging and place.
Years ago, our ancestors frequently walked barefoot and often worked in the soil; people were all just much more apt to be physically “connected” to the earth in the past, rather than insulated from it with cement buildings, paved streets, cars and less open space in our neighborhoods!
Our modern style of walking with plastic shoes and synthetic socks, fully clothed, wearing sunglasses and sunscreen, can leave us feeling disconnected and anxious.
Today, we are constantly bombarded with free radicals from the environment and electromagnetic pollution, which cause inflammation, immune response issues and premature aging in our bodies.
So why does all of this matter? Well, researchers believe that connecting with the natural energy of the earth’s ground can actually help neutralize some of those free radicals; the ground being electrically conductive. Studies show that earthing reduces cortisol levels and inflammation, lowers stress and pain, and even improves sleep.
So How do we get more Vitamin G? Spend 20-30 minutes walking barefoot on the ground, grass or beach…and you will improve your stress level, relax your body and improve your overall health.
If you can’t get outside during your lunch to feel mother earth beneath your feet, then you can bring it into your office! I do it when I travel for conferences where I often have to be indoors from 8 am to 8 pm… I connect to nature by walking on river rocks, natural stone! At the same time I am stimulating my acupressure points on the bottom of my feet so I get double benefit from earthing with river rocks!
#2. Use Relaxing Essential Oils
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils that are harvested from plants, trees and herbs, sometimes using a steam distillation process. Essential oils are typically used for aromatherapy or diluted topical application.
Researchers believe that the fragrance of the oil stimulates the nerves in the nose, where receptors respond by sending chemical messages along the body’s nerve pathways to the brain’s limbic system.
The limbic system controls our moods and emotions. Studies done using imaging have shown the effects of different smells on the limbic system and its emotional pathways, either calming or stimulating.
They can be used for calming and stress relief, as a stimulant, for other medicinal purposes (digestion, nausea), and even as an aphrodisiac.
Essential oils are an easy way to show yourself some love, is by using my favorite relaxing scent: lavender!
It is well-known for its soothing, relaxing and calming properties and is also wonderful for accelerating healing time for burns, cuts, stings and other wounds.
-Rub on neck and temples in evening to relax body and improve sleep
-Relaxing bath before bedtime by add lavender essential oils and epsom salts to restore body after a stressful day
-Diffuse in the air to relax and improve mood
-For a truly relaxing experience, try a massage using lavender essential oils. The essential oil is added to a carrier oil such as almond oil.and massaged into the skin. Give yourself a light temple massage in just minutes… so calming.
Just make sure to dilute the essential oil! It is very potent, add at least 15-20 drops to 1.5 tablespoons of a carrier oil like almond or jajoba oil and I always suggest that you do a skin patch test prior to using it over a larger area of your skin.
I actually have a sachet full of lavender next to my bed in a glass container that I can open and smell before bedtime, not only do I love the scent of lavender but what it does to my body so I can get some deep uninterrupted sleep!
#3 Forest Bathing to heal
Shinrin-yoku is the name given to the Japanese art of “forest bathing,”- mindfulness walks through the woods that reconnect the individual with nature and can help you de-stress, elevate your mood and strengthen your immune system.
Go on a walk or sit within the forest and use your senses of sight, smell and sound to consciously focus on elements within the forest setting.
In one study, forest bathers had an increase in the number of “Natural Killer” cancer cells in the body. It is thought that this may be due to breathing in phytoncide, an essential oil found in many forest trees. Studies have shown forest bathing to be relaxing and even quite spiritual, reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Focus around you, the plants, smells and listen to the birds, the wind… you can even hug a tree to feel it’s presence and power!
20 minutes is all you need to rejuvenate your body and immune system!
A person might touch the bark and focus on how it feels to run their finger over it; or focus on the breeze, feeling it, listening to it, smelling it and watching how it moves leaves in a tree. Someone might inhale the fragrance of different flowers, or focus in on the detail of a particular flower or leaf, perhaps counting the number of petals or veins, or studying the color.
Just 20 minutes.
Ok, so what if you live in the city, where there are no forests close by what do you do to connect to nature? Go to your local park, or find a community garden , or even a Botanical Museum to be surrounded by plants, trees and flowers!
#4 Oxygenate to reduce Anxiety
One of the best things you can do to relax and center yourself is to just breathe, but do it correctly! What’s important though is the actual cadence of the breathing and that you use your diaphragm instead of your chest.
What you want to do is to breathe in through your nose deeply for 4 seconds. Then exhale slowly through your nose for 6 seconds. And then repeat that for a total of 6 times during the one minute. When you breathe in, use your diaphragm muscle to expand your lungs and take in more oxygen. Do this for 10 min only! And you will see how you can break the cycle of anxiety and panic quickly!
But you can’t be thinking about your “to do” list while doing this! That totally defeats the purpose and you likely will not breathe deeply and slowly. Focus on the breathing exercise. Feel your body as it takes in the breath and listen as your exhale.
Stress can make you forgetful, fatigued, depressed and sick. So it really is important to learn some simple techniques like deep breathing.
#5 Last tip on how to relax your mind body and soul is to Appreciate!
After you oxygenate, if you have another few moments I suggest pulling up a brief remembrance of love, compassion or gratitude into your thoughts.
You’ll be surprised at how relaxed and centered this can make you feel. We all have struggles, but I truly believe that we all have much to be thankful for. We’re just typically too busy to remember that!
Take a moment; be thankful for your passions, for your family’s health or recent accomplishments, great or small. Connecting with a loving memory can also be just the thing to de-stress from a challenging afternoon.
So take a few minutes each day and give yourself a little relaxation. You’ll start to feel great from the inside out in no time!