Nature Rx: A Different Kind Of Medicine

July 23, 2020
July 23, 2020 Laura Gouge

“Nature Rx” is by far my favorite prescription to give for stress reduction. There are immediate benefits and long term benefits, and it can provide more immediate relief than many supplements and medications. ⁣This is also a timely & gentle reminder when so many of us are spending significantly more time indoors due to Covid, and setting a small goal to spend time outdoors can reap big benefits for our mental health!⁣
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While time outside has always been considered healthy, a study recently looked at what “dose” of nature we should be getting for optimal benefit (Hunter et. al, 2019).

The details:
-They prescribed participants three nature pills per week at a minimum of 10 minutes each time. ⁣
-A nature exposure was defined as, “anywhere outside that, in the opinion of the participant, included a sufficiency of natural elements to feel like a nature interaction.” ⁣
-No phone calls, social media, internet, or conversations. ⁣
-Two stress markers — salivary cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase were measured in response. Cortisol is a key hormone that impacts immune function, bone density, sleep, weight, blood pressure, anxiety, and more. ⁣⁣
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As a result of nature exposure, cortisol dropped by 21% per hour, and amylase by 28%, with the greatest stress reduction occurred after being outside for at least 20 minutes.⁣⁣

BOTTOM LINE:⁣
💚Go outside for at least 20 minutes 3x/week anywhere that you have access
💚If you are physically able, taking a walk will add benefits of movement, however just sitting in the outdoors reduced stress ⁣
💚Aim to have at least half the time without distraction of your phone

 

Resources:

Hunter, M. R., Gillespie, B. W., & Chen, S. Y. P. (2019). Urban nature experiences reduce stress in the context of daily life                         based on salivary biomarkers. Frontiers in psychology10, 722.

 

{Art by Kika Fuenzalida}