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  • Larissa Spafford, NTP

Two Free Things To Do This Summer To Reduce Stress and Increase Health

stress being washed away by ocean

I chose to work outside today because I was feeling tired, a little overwhelmed and stressed. Now, I’m writing this from a shady spot in my backyard, barefoot in the grass. Every once in a while a hummingbird comes by to drink nectar from the bright red Crocosmias or to chase another hummingbird away from it’s territory.

Even though I’ve been looking over client info all day and staring at a screen, I feel relaxed and energized. And I’ve gotten so much done! I can definitely feel a difference in mood and energy levels from the days I spend all day working inside on the computer.

We have two states of our autonomic nervous system. One is the parasympathetic rest, digest and repair state and the other is our sympathetic fight or flight, go, go, go state. In our culture we’re so busy and on the go. We spend too much time with our sympathetic state heightened and not enough time with our parasympathetic state heightened. This is negatively impacting our health.

activation of the stress system

Spending more time with your parasympathetic state heightened can reduce stress and benefit your health. There’s actually science (1, 2, 3) behind these two simple and free things that help you get there...

1. Earthing- spending time in contact with the earth while laying down, sitting or standing or walking barefoot

2. Forest Bathing- spending time in nature

It seems kinda silly that forest bathing and earthing are even a thing. But really, at least in our culture, we’re spending less time in contact with nature and the earth than ever before in human history. Our health is suffering, and we need all the help we can get. Think about how much time we’re all spending indoors, in artificially controlled climates with artificial lights, staring at screens. We actually do need a reminder.

Spending time in nature may not fix all your problems, but often, not just one thing does. It’s usually a combination of many small things done consistently over time that add up to make a big difference.

Next time you're feeling stressed and need a reset, remember these helpful tools, and spend some time outside.

If you'd like to learn more tools to improve your health, I'd love to work with you! You can choose which local or virtual service fits your needs best here.


1. Gaétan Chevalier, Stephen T. Sinatra, James L. Oschman, Karol Sokal, and Pawel Sokal, “Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons,” Journal of Environmental and Public Health, vol. 2012, Article ID 291541, 8 pages, 2012.

2. Farrow, Marc R, and Kyle Washburn. “A Review of Field Experiments on the Effect of Forest Bathing on Anxiety and Heart Rate Variability.” Global advances in health and medicine vol. 8 2164956119848654. 16 May. 2019, doi:10.1177/2164956119848654

3. Ideno, Yuki et al. “Blood pressure-lowering effect of Shinrin-yoku (Forest bathing): a systematic review and meta-analysis.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine vol. 17,1 409. 16 Aug. 2017, doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1912-z

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