Slow down, get back to nature, and rediscover the joy of life.
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market believes in the wellness of mind and spirit—in addition to the body. Amid a string of parades, festivals, and backyard barbecues, summer may also bring its own stressors. To get insight on how to balance life during this season, we spoke with Dr. Colleen Fairbanks, a licensed clinical psychologist who has a specialization in health.
“As a psychologist, I’m keenly aware of the physical and mental health benefits of soaking in vitamin D, breathing fresh air, and interacting with nature,” Dr. Fairbanks says. “As a lifelong Midwesterner, I know the value of taking advantage of the gorgeous sunlight and extended daylight hours after months of dark days and bitter temps.
“Whether you choose to bike, walk, garden, or hike, any activity that immerses your body, mind, and soul in nature will improve your overall health and well-being,” Dr. Fairbanks says. “Follow these four steps—and get out, get active, and get physically and mentally well!”
For the most memorable road trip, pack comforts for ease of travel, lunches for breaks along the route, and treats for the ride. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market has helpful suggestions and products.
Want to feel lighter and less burdened? Free yourself of external and internal clutter. Go through each room in your home and pick three things you can do without; either sell or donate them. Give up foods and relationships that no longer boost your health. Ditch fried and fast. Choose fresh and wholesome. Grab some water, a piece of fruit, and step outside to engage yourself in nature. Then just stop. . . . Feel negative thoughts and stress fade. Let a feeling of calm contentment wash over you: Nature is a powerful negativity buster.
The very essence of human existence relies heavily on connection—with ourselves, one another, and the world. Unfortunately, the devices we use to feel connected can keep us at arm’s length. Disconnect from those devices and make a commitment this summer to interact directly with people. Those who spend time outdoors know more people in their community, have strong bonds with neighbors, and feel a sense of belonging. A healthy social life is critical to mental wellness and that is best done in person and in nature.
Gleaning the full benefit of life happens when focus and attention stays with us, here, in the now. If you’re feeling distracted or scattered, turn to the great outdoors. Nature increases the ability to focus and improves attention span. Walk among trees and let the injustices of the world be replaced by calm. Even viewing a tree through a window or in a picture can boost positive emotions and improve attention.
There is inherent peace in being in nature. It helps clear minds of unnecessary worry and reduces pent-up tension. Incorporating physical activity while outdoors increases energy and decreases depression. Lastly, spending more time in nature and in natural light can do wonders for sleep. Natural light normalizes the body’s internal clock, regulates sleeping patterns, and helps us wake up feeling refreshed!
Dr. Colleen Fairbanks is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialization in health. An expert on the mind-body connection, she is passionate about helping people to purposefully live their best lives.