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How Nature Heals Us

August 20th, 2012 by Sherry Collier

Richard Louv, the author of “Last Child in the Woods” writes about the importance of nature in the lives of children.  He coined the term, “nature deficit disorder” and he sets out some pretty impressive research about how children heal in nature, how they are inspired to creativity in nature and how they develop their full range of senses in nature.  I can relate to all of this as an adult and I know that there are many adults out there suffering from “nature deficit disorder” too.

Before I describe now nature heals us, I want to further define “nature deficit disorder”.   Richard Louv puts it this way, “Nature deficit disorder describes the human costs of alienation from nature, among them:  diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.  The disorder can be detected in individuals, families, and communities, nature deficit can even change human behavior in cities, which could ultimately affect their design, since long-standing studies show a relationship between the absence, or inaccessibility, of parks and open space with high crime rates, depression, and other urban maladies.” (Last Child in the Woods, page 34)

How does nature heal us?  Nature plays a key role in our physical, emotional and spiritual development.  When we take a look over the past 100 years, we see a slow migration from living in tune with the cycles and rhythms of nature, to living in the confines of man-made environments.

When there was no electricity, we depended upon fire for light at night – and then we went to bed much earlier.  Our body clocks were in tune with the sunrise, the sunset, and the dim light of the stars scattered through a dark sky.  Now, we stay up late with t.v. sets blaring, lights shining, and chores demanding our attention.  We get up with the help of an obnoxious alarm clock after getting too little sleep and we rush around to get ready for another electric (and hectic) day.

It does not take a scientist to see the increasing rates of insomnia, obesity, high blood pressure, higher cortisol and stress levels and to understand that getting away from the natural rhythms of nature’s cycles has done us harm.

Nature heals us through our sense of sight.  Many studies show that humans have a natural affinity for looking at nature.  The mind and body relax when looking at fields of green or skies of blue.  It has been long known that hospital patients who have a view of a brick wall out their window will take longer to get well than patients with a view of grass, trees and sky.
Nature heals us through our sense of touch.  If you have known the joy of digging into fresh soil and planting something – you may enjoy knowing that this has the ability to bring healing to your emotions as well as healing microbes into your system.  When we dig in the earth, the little micro-organisms that make up the soil get absorbed through the pores on our skin.  We need a certain amount of these healthy little micro-organisms to keep us physically strong.

In addition to physically nourishing us, touching and interacting with nature also lowers our stress levels, calms anxiety, and lifts our mood.  We were created to live in a garden (literally) and the further we move away from “the garden”, the less whole-health we enjoy.

Sebastiano Santostefano, director of the Institute for Child and Adolescent Development, explained his view that nature has power to shape the psyche, and that it can play a significant role in helping traumatized children.  He found that playing outdoors, whether along a river or in an alleyway, “is how a kid works through issues.” (Louv, Last Child In the Woods, page 51)
Rather than send our kids to a gym to play basketball, we need to be sending them outdoors to interact with nature, to play in nature, to make forts, to hop over rocks in streams, to build things with sticks and twigs.  Rather than just taking ourselves (as adults) to a fitness center to pump iron, we should mix it up with a hike through nature, a swim in a lake or ocean, digging in our garden, planting seeds and sitting under the stars at night.

Take off your shoes and walk barefoot on grass, dirt or sand.  Allow the negative ions of the earth to enter the soles of your feet to recharge your soul.  Calm your mind by viewing the Milky Way, watching the moon climb in the night sky, or simply smelling the cooling earth and trees as evening gives way to night.  I dare say that if you set aside regular time each week to interact with nature, to get conscious in nature, to see, smell, feel and experience nature, you will immediately reap profound benefits in mind, body and spirit.
John Burroughs shares this thought with us, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more.”

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How to Stay Sane in an Insane World of Technology

July 3rd, 2012 by Sherry Collier

As a mom who also happens to be a Marriage and Family Therapist, I see the huge need we have for more balance.  I see the devastating effects of technology-driven lives in children, couples, families, and even in the families’ pets.  Technology can separate us.  It can cause us to live in a made-up world where opinions and feelings are disembodied – shared without the context of a real relationship.  On the other-hand, if properly managed, technology can be used to bring together like minds who can then plan to meet at the local park, the local hiking trail, etc.

I see first-hand the healing effects of nature on people with mood disorders, autism, anxiety, PTSD, and a whole host of other emotional challenges.  I see the healing effects nature can have on the relationship between a husband and wife or son and father (on relationships in general).  Nature seems to be the best place to connect – it forces us to look into each other’s eyes, speak our thoughts and feelings out loud, to work together as we plant gardens, to come to each other’s support when nature unleashes her fury through a storm.

I hope and pray that more and more humans will return to nature, both for fun and for work.  We need more organic farmers and more flower gardens.  We need more hiking trails and cleaner beaches.  For me, nature is an important part of my spiritual growth.  I worship my Creator by looking with awe upon Creator’s creation each and every moment.  I hope we will all join together and fight the good fight, put down the game, turn off the computer and walk about freely on the planet. 😉

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Overcome Overwhelm: 5 Steps to Renew Your Mind

April 17th, 2012 by Sherry Collier

You know that frantic feeling that comes when you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it all?  The brain seems to be in a fog, unable to prioritize and put things in order.  Then you spin out and shut down – crumpled up on your couch with a huge […]

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Overcome Your Fear of Failure

March 26th, 2012 by Sherry Collier

Fear can be both a helpful response and a hindering response in life depending upon what kind of fear is occurring and how you respond to it. When you are growing up, fear played an important role in teaching you not to touch a hot stove or run into traffic. Later in life, those same […]

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Anxiety: Types and Tips

February 6th, 2012 by Sherry Collier

Anxiety can be a sneaky emotion.  You can suffer from anxiety without fully realizing or understanding it.   The thing is, anxiety can interrupt success in life and in business.  When you can identify anxiety symptoms and learn how to deal with them, you can get back on the road to achieve your goals again.  In […]

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For Holiday Success – Keep It Simple Sister!

December 6th, 2011 by Sherry Collier

I get weary of trying to buy a million Christmas presents this time of year.  And decorating the house?  Oh, don’t get me started . . . as a mom, a business woman, a wife, a “taxi-driver” (to and from soccer games and piano lessons) . . . I just don’t have time to go […]

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Healthy Boundaries for a Healthy Life and Business: 5 Tips

November 20th, 2011 by Sherry Collier

When you create healthy boundaries in your personal life and business life, you are setting yourself up for success.  When those boundaries are blurred, you will suffer from burn-out, depression, anxiety and other unwanted side effects.  It can be challenging to set healthy boundaries when we have so many different people, tasks, and activities competing […]

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From Frazzled to Calm and Clear

November 8th, 2011 by Sherry Collier

The events of the past few days took their emotional and mental toll and I found myself feeling frazzled and lost this morning. My mind was racing with multiple to do lists. My thoughts were fuzzy and unclear about what to do next and how to find some calm and joy. Yuck! I needed to […]

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The Simple Life

October 17th, 2011 by Sherry Collier

I am in the midst of struggling with technology right now.  I’m learning new software and new systems which are completely foreign to me, so as you may imagine, I am feeling a tad overwhelmed.  In the midst of all this overwhelm I am reminded to consciously return to simplicity.  I am tempted to run […]

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Effectively Stabilize Your Emotions: Don’t Let Your Amygdala Hijack Your Brain

September 26th, 2011 by Sherry Collier

Much information has been shared in the world of psychology and personal development about how to stabilize your emotions in order to live your life more effectively.  My goal for this article is to introduce how the amygdala (in the emotional center of your brain) plays a role in your emotional life and how to […]

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