PAMPANGA

Peña: The healing power of nature

E-ssue

WE ALL have experienced stress. It's part of life. There's good stress though, like when taking an exam or engaging in sports or competitions. This stress enables us 'run the extra mile', so to speak.

According to medical books, when you are stressed, the nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed up your reaction time, and enhance your focus.

The body can recover from short-term stress. But being stressed for a long time can lead to health issues. Problems, anxieties, pressure, loss of a loved one, traumatic experiences, depression, sickness and a lot of other negative situations can cause long-term stress. It can also seriously interfere with your job and relationships.

When stressed, medical professionals sometimes recommend exercise, which can help lower stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins and improve sleep and self-image. There are also several supplements that promote stress and anxiety reduction.

Well, here's good news especially for nature lovers. According to a new research, taking at least 20 minutes to stroll or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature will significantly lower your stress hormone levels. Healthcare practitioners can use this discovery, published in Frontiers in Psychology, to prescribe "nature-pills" in the knowledge that they have a real measurable effect.

Dr. Mary Carol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of this research said: "Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature."

In the research paper, nature is defined as anywhere outside that, in the opinion of the participant, included a sufficiency of natural elements to feel like a nature interaction. Natural elements, in my opinion, can mean trees, mountains, rivers, seashore or even stars at night. Perhaps a park, where some of these elements are present, may provide the venue for stress relief.

The problem with some cities or towns is that they have no public park. Lucky for us in Angeles and Mabalacat, we have Clark. During weekends, the picnic ground is teeming with people who spend their time eating, playing or simply lying down under the Acacia trees. The parade ground on the other hand is full of joggers and strollers every single day.

So, when you feel that you are about to erupt due to too much stress, just commune with nature. You can also lift up your spirit by thanking God for his wonderful creation.


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