Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Easter Actions

It’s coming! The warmer sun is coming. We Minnesotans get to bypass the latest forecast of snow as we move beyond the halfway mark of April -- because the April sun reports to our skin that all of nature is starting its warming season. Maybe we achieved bouts of nature bathing even when the snowdrifts were record breaking. But oh, that warm sun is really beckoning us to put specific nature walks on our weekly calendar.

In a recent natural health magazine, I discovered that one study found that people’s blood pressure, resting heart rate, and levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) were all significantly lower after a 15 minute nature walk compared to walking a 15 minute city block. These same reductions were found in people who spent 15 minutes just sitting in a chair in the woods. Thank you trees and plants for gobbling up our carbon dioxide and pouring out your oxygen!

Even five minutes in a natural setting is enough to boost your mood. And researchers found that time spent near rivers, lakes or oceans had the most powerful emotional effects. So I resolve to walk in nature areas whenever I can. I’m also dusting off my lawn chair, pulling out my fishing gear and checking if my swim suit still fits. I figure my heart, blood pressure and cortisol levels will thank me in the weeks ahead for these simple Easter Resolutions. And may the researchers’ promise of mood shifting effects somehow ripple into an expansion of loving actions and words. You who created all the harmonies of nature, let it be so.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

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