How are you feeling today?
There’s a good chance you will fall into one of the following 3 categories and say something like:
Group A – Terrific, Fantastic or Great!
Group B – Fine, Okay or Not bad.
Group C – Sad, Miserable, Depressed.
So which group are you in today, be honest?
Mental health statistics reveal that about a quarter of the population are in Group C experiencing some kind of anxiety and depression in their lives on a regular basis. So if your answer is in group C you’re not alone. In fact, people who answer B and A are sometimes hiding their their true feelings and from time to time will also experience shifts in their mood.
Brain science has identified chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters which influence how fantastic, good or sad we feel.
Neurotransmitters help the brain communicate more effectively by blocking the effects of stress hormones like Adrenaline and Cortisol and stimulating the growth and development of neural pathways in our brain.
Neural Pathways link our thoughts, feelings and emotions to our actions, reactions and behaviours.
Let’s just look at one of these chemicals Serotonin.
Serotonin levels influence our mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behaviours.
Too much Serotonin and we become over-active and excitable, too little and we become under-active and sluggish.
Antidepressants and Counselling are popular treatments for depression, but pills have side effects and if you are already feeling depressed then there’s a good chance that talking about your problems and why you feel the way you do will only result in making you feel even worse.
While it can be helpful to have a sympathetic ear and someone to off load to, talking about what’s not working in your life and how low you feel, will only serve to keep you locked into feeling depressed.
Researchers now believe low levels of serotonin may also be associated with other psychological conditions such as obsessive-compulsive behaviour, anxiety, panic, and excessive anger.
The good news is your body can naturally produce Serotonin if you allow it to. There is a growing body of scientific research that shows how walking mindfully in nature can improve our mental health (click here to read the research) and there are some highly effective and simple ways to do this.
1. Fresh Air and moderate exercise.
We all know exercising and fresh air is good for our body and physical health, but did you know there is now scientific evidence to back up that it’s great for our mind and psychological well-being too?
A study published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience found that exercise increases Serotonin levels by increasing the level of Tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan is an amino acid used to manufacture Serotonin naturally. Antidepressants trigger Tryptophan too, but often there are uncomfortable side effects and some people don’t want to become drug dependent.
2. Reconnect to Nature.
Most of us through personal experience known that being in nature feels good and can lift our mood. Now scientists have been able to record and prove spending time surrounded by nature reduces Cortisol levels. Cortisol is stress hormone that robs us of serotonin. So if you can reduce Cortisol your brain can make more serotonin.
3. Become aware of how your thoughts effect your feelings and actions.
Researchers studying people walking in nature found that those who walked practicing mindfulness techniques, monitoring their thoughts and feelings and choosing which ones to attach to, had significantly lower levels of stress hormone, reduced blood pressure and a greater feeling of well-being than those who just walked.
4. Learn new patterns of thinking and behaving.
Moving and learning is what our brain is for. When we do this we stimulate our brain and it grows. As the brain grows new neural pathways it automatically releases Endorphins, Dopamine and Serotonin your natural “Feel Good” Neurotransmitters that make you feel Terrific, Fantastic and Great! For more information about changing thoughts, feelings and behaviours using Natural Mindsight click here
…enjoy the journey!
Ian Banyard is a Nature Connection Guide and author of Natural Mindfulness – your personal guide to the healing power of nature connection. He is passionate about exploring nature and empowering people. Ian combines a wealth of knowledge and experience from his personal and corporate life with intuitive and instinctive insights from his own inner journey, to guide others.
Ian lives in Gloucestershire, UK where he guides Natural Mindfulness Walks and provides coaching, courses, gatherings and retreats, for others who want to deepen their connection with nature and their true nature.
To attend a Natural Mindfulness Walk or event, visit Natural Mindfulness Walks
Want to experience Natural Mindfulness for yourself?
Natural Mindfulness – your personal guide to the healing power of nature connection, is AVAILABLE NOW.
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