Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Guest Blog for Mompreneur Ontario: Vitamin N for Success

Nature (AKA Vitamin N) is an ancient vitamin lacking in many of our lives. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘nature’? Some may say a forest, a sunset, animals or a meadow. When you picture it in your mind, what type of feelings do you feel? Words often heard are calming, happy, inspired, or serene.

In today’s society, it is a busy life. The kids need to be fed, homework done, house to clean and if you own your own business, you wear many hats that sometimes feel ongoing without a break. The stress builds up to a point where you wonder if it is all worth it.

What if there was a way you could distress, take a break, take a beat, a breath and it wouldn’t cost you a penny and it is all around you no matter where you are.

Sounds amazing don’t it?

Well it is all around you, we have just forgotten about it. It is nature. Spending time out in nature has been proven to alleviate stress. William Bird, a professor at Oxford University and Chief Health Advisor for Natural England talks about the flight or fight reflex we encounter during a stressful situation.  He says “The fight or flight reflex is a normal response to stress caused by the release of catecholamine’s (including adrenaline) and results in muscle tension, raised blood pressure, faster pulse, diversion of blood away from the skin to muscle and sweating. All of these factors help the body to cope with a dangerous situation. However without rapid recovery this stress response would cause damage and exhaustion with limited response to a repeat dangerous situation.”

Taking a stroll that exposes you to nature quiets the mind to a calmer relax state. The time spent outdoors elevates the stress you may be feeling from anxiety, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) some feel this time of year or from the day to day grind.

It isn’t just stress that a healthy dose of Vitamin N is good for. Exposure to nature, be it through a stroll, looking at pictures, sitting outside on a quiet street looking at a potted tree or laying down on a blanket in a park, it increases the senses and higher work productivity.  A study at the University of Michigan demonstrated that after an hour of interaction with nature, memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent. Another research showed a 5 per cent boost in creativity for people who immersed themselves in nature for a few days.

I encourage you all to spend time outside in nature; whatever forms you can find and get your weekly dose of Vitamin N. You will be feeling rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to take on the next task at hand and feel more successful in all aspects.

About the author: Rhonda Ursulak
Rhonda Ursulak is a nature educator with Nature’s Backpack in the Halton Region. Through her understanding and knowledge of the natural environment, she leads children and families into the thrilling and unknown mysteries of nature. Through her programs, children are offered various opportunities to learn about their environment, move in it with ease, grow confident, increase social skills, motor skills, balanced lifestyle and foster community connections.