Make time to get outside and breathe at least once a day.
Lunch Hour Lesson #29
The weather has been beautiful the past few days here in North Idaho where I live. It is finally sandal weather and I am loving not having to wear sweatpants all the time to stay warm.
Today I want to talk about the benefits of being outside. It is a great idea to, at some point each day, go outside and breathe the air. Leave your smartphone inside, and walk around and look at the sky. If it is raining, notice how different the air smells than when it is sunny. During the winter, feel the cold bite in your nostrils and on your cheeks.
The point is to be mindful. Of course most of us are physically outside sometimes during the day, like when we walk from our car to our place of work, or to the store, but being outside and paying attention to the outside are two different things. Paying attention ensures that you’ll get the nervous system shift to a parasympathetic state which helps the body rest and digest. That’s why eating a meal outside during is a great idea!
I read somewhere that during long stints of computer work, it is important to follow the 20/20/20 rule: Stand up every 20 minutes, and look at least 20 feet into the distance for 20 seconds to give your eyes and brain a break from the screen. Better yet, go outside to do this. When I remember, I try to set a 20 minute timer to do this. It is also a great time to stretch and move the body a little.
So much is said in the health community about the importance of our microbiome, or the community of yeasts, fungus, and bacteria that live on and in us and perform many important functions for us.
I, like many others, take a probiotic and prebiotic supplement to keep my microbiome fed and in good order. But I remember hearing a scientist talk about how just going out into nature and breathing the air in different environments can also diversify the microbes that we host.
A forest has its own set of organisms, the beach has others. This one of the reasons why hiking is so rejuvenating. It is like going to a microbe buffet – and that’s a good thing!
Set an intention for what you hope to get out of this program.
Another thing people talk about when it comes to being outside is earthing, or grounding. Earthing is the concept of putting your skin in contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside. This means on grass, soil, sand, anything naturally occurring that covers the ground.
I have to say that walking barefoot in my front yard while I admire the flowers blooming, or walking on the beach barefoot really does feel good, and I notice a bit of tingling in my lower legs. Perhaps it’s just the sensation of grass or sand against my bare feet, but I like to imagine the connection with the Earth’s electric charge.
I also distinctly remember, as a child, running around our yard barefoot all the time. The way the grass would get cold against my feet as the sun set told me it was soon going to be time to come inside.
Yesterday I did go out and walk around, but apparently all the pine trees on our property are dropping sappy seed pods because my feet got a ton of sap on them which then stuck on a bunch of grass. Fun! Coconut oil to the rescue – it always takes off any kind of glue or sap or otherwise sticky stuff you don’t want.
The topic of getting outside for sunshine and Vitamin D purposes is a whole one in itself, so I’ll talk about that in a couple weeks.
Go outside and put your bare feet on a natural surface, breathe the air, and notice what is around you. Is it cold? Is it windy? Is the sun hot? How do your feet feel? What do you hear? Even just standing in one place helps you connect with the Earth.