The world is full of things that speed us up and stress us out. But it’s also full of beautiful simplicity to slows us down and calm our spirit.
We can balance the demands of society and the overwhelm of technology by spending more time in nature.
Nature and technology are opposites in many ways. Nature is a metaphor for the body, while technology represents our mind. The Internet has been compared to our brain, providing speedy access to lots of stored information.
Meanwhile, nature is grounded in physical laws, the present moment and deep interconnection, much like our bodies.
Balancing time spent in our head with time spent in our bodies is as simple as balancing time spent on technology (phone, computer, TV) with time spent outside. Lots of time in nature is not necessary or realistic for most people, but it’s important to remember that nature is there for us when we need it. It’s there to help us unwind your nervous systems.
When I lived in New York City, I did not have easy access to nature (Central Park didn’t count). As a result, I spent most of my time in my head, kept company by my neurotic thoughts. This felt normal, because everyone around me was also living like this.
Because I was so out of touch with nature, my world view was dictated by the laws of man, which centered around appearance, materialism and external achievement.
As a hyper sensitive introvert, I often needed to turn my attention inward to recover and regroup from life. When I don’t have easy access to nature, I get burned out quickly.
Eventually in New York City , my body began to break down from the constant pace and over stimulation, with no relief. I drowned my sorrows at bars, when I just needed was to hike it out. But I didn’t know that at the time.
There are also similarities between nature and technology.
They both offer connection. Technology connects us to each other, giving us the social support we crave. But nature offers a sense of connection that’s even deeper and more meaningful. It offers a connection to self and to everything around us. It reminds us that we have the power to connect without WIFI.
How to balance technology and nature
You don’t need to go deep into the wilderness to get your nature fix, just go outside, look at the sky, smell the fresh air, hang out by a tree or sit in the grass.
If you’re not used to lack of stimulation, it might feel strange at first, possibly even anxiety producing. In this case, it’s best to build up a tolerance by spending shorter stints outside, just doing nothing. Your nervous system needs to slowly make the transition between lots of stimulation to none.
When I first moved to San Francisco, spending too much time in nature disturbed and bored me, but after a while I grew to love, even crave it.
These days, my stress relief is decompressing in my back yard, swinging in my hammock or sitting by my garden.
We’re so busy, that we forget to take breaks in nature. Then we wonder why we feel so out of balance?
People tend to decompress in front of their TVs or on Facebook, but don’t realize that their nervous system is still active and firing during these activities. Real relaxation, the healing kind, involves NO stimulation to the nervous system.
That’s what happen s when you walk through a scene like this:
How nature heals
Now lets get to the science. How does nature heal?
The earth has powerful cleansing powers. The earth’s electrical current helps us move toxic, stale energy out of your body. Science can measure the electrons entering your body when you have full contact with ground.
According to Dr. Mercola, the earth’s electrons have an antioxidant effect which helps ease inflammation. The healing electron energy conducted through our bodies also helps move fluids like blood, lymph and inter muscular fluids. It also helps detox our body from the effects of “electromagnetic pollution” or “dirty electricity.”
Who needs fancy spas when you have the world’s best free cleaning service at your toe tips?
This cleansing phenomenon is called “earthing” or “grounding”. To get the detoxifying benefit you simply need to have barefoot contact with the grass/dirt/brick/sand. Or you can lay your body on the ground. That works too.
Time in nature and natural light also raises serotonin and endorphin levels, which is something we all need judging by the overwhelming response to last week’s blog about raising serotonin.
Other benefits of nature
Time in nature eases our tendency to compare ourselves to others. It takes us out of our small world and introduces us to a more expansive view. It actually creates space in our lives. And we sensitive souls, need this desperately. Less productivity and more space.
In Eastern European, people who were very sick were sent to convalesce in sanitariums by the sea. The ocean was considered a place of deep healing and has similar cleansing power to the earth’s. Hotspring were also popular healing destinations. Much better than hospitals, no?
The beauty of nature, lifts our spirit and lowers expectations about things happening instantly. If you watch plants to grow, you understand they take their natural time and can’t be rushed. Technology, on the other hand, creates expectations for the opposite: instant gratification and uber speed.
Because the body follows the laws of nature, not technology, it can’t be rushed to heal or grow. It often makes progress in ebbs and flows like the tide.
By balancing the speed of technology with the sleepy progress of nature, we can develop more realistic expectations of progress. Expectations that supports us, instead of torturing us with unrealistic impatience.
If your schedule and life demands prevent you from getting outside as much as you would like, there are things you can do to bring nature into your life.
Bringing nature indoors
Filling your house with plants is one way to bring nature to you. Not only do plants clean the air, they represent the healing power of nature. Lying under a large palm tree in your home can feel like a mini vacation.
You can also grow things inside or outside your home, like a tiny herb garden on a window sill or a tomato plant potted on your porch. Gardening can connect you with nature on a whole new level.
It’s humbling and fascinating to see nature’s cycle unfurl before your eyes. As humans we were meant to watch things grow, but that aspect of life disappeared when we began to rely on supermarkets and corporations to feed us.
The role of technology in healing
Technology has many, healing benefits that we can learn to use to our advantage.
Technology helps us connect with like-minded people all over the world. We can share and read stories that make us feel less alone, that teach each other the lessons we’re here to learn. I’ve personally had some epiphanies after reading a blog post. All it takes is one targeted quote to get me to see myself or the world differently. Or to go deeper into a topic I’ve been avoiding.
There are tons of online communities, both websites and social media groups, that focus on specific diets or healing modalities. Here’s a post I wrote a about plugging into healing online communities, including my favorites.
And don’t forget, whatever your healing needs, there’s probably an app for that. (And just like nature, some of these apps are free.)
Best IBS applications
These applications for the iPhone, iPad or Android can encourage awareness, mindfulness, and crucial data collection around your symptoms. If you don’t have a smart phone, some of these apps have associated websites.
Bowel Mover Lite is an app that lets you track your bowel movements daily, along with what you ate. It can graph the information over time, giving you a clear, scientific viewpoint of bowel patterns and cause and effect. It’s free to download.
Manage IBS now (also available for Google Android platform) is like having a hypnotherapist in your pocket. It plays relaxing music, has 9 hypnotherapy videos and tips for stress reduction. Costs 99 cents to download.
GI bodyguard is a food and health tracking app that allows someone to keep a detailed journal of health in real time and also print out a summary, over time, to share with a health care practitioner. Free to download.
Let Panic Go is an app that guides people through deep breathing exercises to ease anxiety or panic attacks.
The Public Toilets app allows people to quickly find a public toilet in an emergency.
My IBS diary is an app for the Google Android platform that allows you to input and keep track of what you ate that day and how you felt, along with what happened that day, bowel movements, etc.
Low-FODMAP diet is an Android app that is a cheat sheet for what foods are allowed on the low FODMAP diet.
The Monash University low FODMAP diet for the iPhone has a list of foods plus a shopping list and recipes. Also included is a one week challenge to monitor your food intake and symptoms.
PaleoGoGo is a great Andriod companion for eating out. A list of 2000 Paleo-friendly meals at more than 300 U.S. chain restaurants.
Nom Nom Paleo will provide shopping lists and tons of amazing recipes from the Nom Nom Paleo website.
My Fitness Pal is a FREE app compatible with all major smart phones. While this app is not about IBS specifically it does have a social component that can give people the support and connection to achieve their health goals (ie: exercising and eating right). You can connect with friends or strangers to support each other through tough goals.
The drawbacks of technology
The biggest problem with technology is access to too much information. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or indecisive from information overload, the solution is not more information. If you need to get out of your head, just go outside.
Time spent in nature will clear the physical response of confusion, help process information and tune you into your intuition.
If you’re stuck in front of a computer and can’t leave, you can always use the power of technology to simulate nature. Looking at beautiful, calming nature photos on your computer can lower you blood pressure levels and clear your head.
Checking out the amazing nature photographs here to get your nature fix, especially if you love redwood trees like I do.
If you’re still not convinced about the power of nature, just notice how happy dogs are when they’re outside. So take a lesson from my pup and go outside and play!
Angela Privin is proof that IBS is NOT an incurable disease or a disease at all. IBS is a body out of balance. It’s an invitation for change. After solving her own IBS mystery more than a decade ago Angela trained as a health coach to help others.
Angela uses both science and intuition to help people figure out what’s out of balance in their body. She works with lab tests, dietary changes, supplementation and nervous system rebalancing. Get help rebalancing your digestive system and solving your IBS mystery here.