How to dramatically lower your stress hormone levels naturally
(NaturalHealth365) What’s your favorite way to lower stress hormone levels? If spending time in nature is one of them, your intuition is backed up by an ample amount of evidence. In fact, the latest news from science says it all.
For example, a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology provides more insight into exactly what quality time in nature does to the human body. This paper, along with other research, is adding fuel the conversation that’s calling for doctors to start “prescribing” time outdoors as a healing methodology.
Are your stress hormone levels too high? Science discovers a “quick fix”
Researchers of the above-mentioned paper ran an 8-week-long experiment to see what would happen to participants’ stress levels if they spent at least 10 minutes outside, three times per week. Participants were “free to choose the time of day, duration, and the place of a [nature experience] in response to personal preference and changing daily schedules.”
This research is that it didn’t just rely on subjective data (e.g., whether the participants felt less stressed). The researchers used objective data as measured changes in stress biomarkers from saliva samples, including the stress hormone cortisol and the enzyme alpha-amylase.
The results? Nature experiences significantly lowered these biomarkers!
This significant benefit was seen even after the researchers accounted for the way stress hormones naturally fluctuate depending on the time of day. Beyond lowering stress levels naturally, nature exposure (also called Shinrin-yoku forest therapy or forest bathing in Japanese medicine) has also been shown to offer a number of other health benefits.
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We’re not surprised to hear this, since we know that chronic stress is a key driver of chronic illness and a variety of physical and psychological health problems.
Other benefits of nature pills or forest bathing include:
- Decreased blood pressure and heart rate
- Strengthened immune system
- Improved mental focus (this has even been found in individuals with ADHD)
- Increased energy
- Enhanced sleep
- Accelerated healing and recovery from surgery or illnesses
Should doctors start prescribing “nature pills?”
In the new Frontiers in Psychology study, the researchers found that just 20 minutes at least three times per week appeared to be a minimally effective dose. Meanwhile, a slightly longer duration of up to 30 minutes appeared to lower stress hormone levels at the greatest rate. Benefits continued beyond 30 minutes at a time, but at a slower rate.
Additional parameters to consider that the researchers found enhanced the effects of the “nature pills” included:
- Spending the time in nature during daylight hours
- Not adding in aerobic exercise – forest bathers should simply sit or walk slowly for optimal effectiveness (of course, aerobic exercise is a great stress buster, so it’s certainly worth doing in addition to taking a nature pill…maybe just don’t count your morning run as your “nature time”)
- Unplugging while outside – this included no social media, internet, phone calls, or even reading or conversations with other people
Don’t have access to a beautiful forest? Don’t worry, finding somewhere in your environment that “brings a sense of contact to nature” can still be quite effective. This may include a city park, a garden, or a cozy backyard.
The point is simply this: get out in the sun, unplug, and sit quietly. Let nature help you lower stress naturally!
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