Want to reduce stress? Try imitating nature

Stress and sleep

Monique Cazelais
Monique Cazelais
@AVogel_ca


23 October 2018

Life at the speed of technology

Technology allows us to live at breakneck speeds. It provides convenience and knowledge at our fingertips. Is there a cost to this? It seems the faster we go, the greater the demands placed on us - and the higher the rates of anxiety, depression, and chronic diseases.

To easily negotiate this we can take pills and supplements but at some point, the pill or the supplement might not work anymore because the underlying issue is not being addressed.

The power of nature

Alfred Vogel's philosophy was steeped in education about health and good food. Supplements came last. He was a big proponent of nature as he believed it contained the answers to our ills.

Following nature's example and trying to find a balance between tension and relaxation, activity and rest, and intellectual and physical activity was what he recommended.

He believed illness and suffering were caused by imbalance and disharmony in our lives. If we take this advice, it becomes our job to figure out where these imbalances are so that we can live healthier lives. So, where can you start?

Pay attention to nature

Ancient Traditions

Ancient traditions teach us that there is a rhythm in nature which mirrors our own. Ayurveda, the east Indian medical system, has existed for thousands of years. Ayurveda literally means the science of life vs. the western medical model which is focused on disease.

In this system, human beings are seen as being made of the same stuff as the earth's elements: water (roughly two thirds), earth (same elements as the earth), fire (constant average temperature, where only a few degrees off in either direction threaten our existence), air (we take in 02 and expel CO2) and space (which allows for the movement of it all). These elements will eventually return to nature through the cycle of life.

Not too long ago nature was our compass. If we take the time to reconnect with it, it might just help us with our health. See it as a sort of Advil for the soul ;)

Dark and light

Dark and light are constantly at play. Take as an example the contrasts of dark and light within a day or within a season. The balance provides a rhythm to the world we inhabit. Dark allows for recuperation and gestation. Light provides space to grow and express.

Harriet Beinfeld an acupuncturist and author tells how nature behaves in winter: ‘plants submerge their lifeblood into their roots, animals thicken their hides, and ponds harden into ice. She goes on to say: 'this is a time of apparent quiescence and stasis, yet beneath the surface is the hidden activity of gestation and germination that will bring forth renewal in spring.1

We also need downtime to rest and gestate. Think of how sleep might bring the answer to the problem you have been trying to solve. Or how a break from work might allow you to return with fresh ideas.

Sleep if you need it

When there is less natural light outside many of us need more sleep. At times more than the standard 7 to 8 hours.  Listening to this desire would be imitating nature. A good marker of good sleep is if you feel refreshed when you wake up. You are the best judge of this and whether your body needs more or less sleep.

Hygge

Hygge 'the Danish art of getting cozy'2 has captured the attention of millions over the past few years. Our bodies and minds need comfort and nurturing. It's this inward movement, that allows for a healthy outward movement. Yin and yang, dark and light, one doesn't exist well without the other.

Spend time in nature

New research suggests  us that 'exposure to green space reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.'3

Many companies have invested in nature by bringing it into the workplace. A few examples, Apple hired an arborist to plant 8,000 trees around their campus4 while Salesforce's head office boasts big windows, natural light, and views of the Cascade Range5. In these types of settings, research has shown reduced rates of absenteeism, improved productivity, increased employee retention, improved worker moods, and job satisfaction. 6&7 Therefore, this investments in nature, not only supports the health of business but it also supports the health of employees.

Find your own nature

If you don't have access to fancy corporate digs, find your own nature. You can frolic in a park, cook real, unprocessed food, hug, climb or sit under a tree, walk barefoot - or just look at beautiful pictures of nature. Since looking at pictures of nature has actually shown to kick stress levels down.

A little extra help

Sometimes we have the best intentions but being overstretched gets in the way of adopting new habits or taking the first step towards long-term health.

A. Vogel has many products that can help bring the angst down and help you get a good nights sleep. Here are a few of them:

  • Deep Sleep is made from a combination of valerian & hops. It helps to decrease the onset time of sleep and improves its overall quality.
  • Passion Flower is good if you tend towards nervousness, restlessness, agitation, and irritability. These qualities make it a natural for insomnia.
  • Avenaforce is made of oats. It reinforces the nervous system. It is both relaxing and stimulating. It's also good for low libido in both men and women.

References

1 https://www.bewell.com/blog/the-winter-season-a-chinese-medicine-perspective/
2 https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-year-of-hygge-the-danish-obsession-with-getting-cozy
3 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180706102842.htm
4 https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/11/technology/forget-beanbag-chairs-amazon-is-giving-its-workers-treehouses.html
5 https://www.geekwire.com/2017/inside-salesforces-new-70k-square-foot-bellevue-office-mindfulness-zones-social-spaces/
6 https://www.mindful.org/office-needs-nature/
7 https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/11/technology/forget-beanbag-chairs-amazon-is-giving-its-workers-treehouses.html?_r=0