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Two Hours a week (20 minutes a day) in Nature

Kent and I went to Irvine California the last week of June to an alternative cancer clinic. Kent’s cancer is currently under control so we figured it was a good time to bring into his life any support that might help to keep it under control. One of the assignments that they gave Kent was to sit outside with his bare feet in the grass for at least 20 minutes a day. Since Kent was given this assignment we have been taking our lunch outside and while Kent sits in a lawn chair with his bare feet in the grass we eat and visit. It has been amazingly delightful. It gets us both to slow down and enjoy our lunch and each other’s company. Kent’s so funny because he doesn’t move the chair into the middle of the lawn, he leaves it on the patio and dips his feet into the grass. But at least he is doing it.

I found this article in a local publication of “The Caregiver News” sent out by Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services.

“In a study of 20,000 people, a team led by Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter, found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces – local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits – were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t.” (Jim Robbins, Yale) The study found that those who spent hours (or 120 minutes) a week in nature/green space improved their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. A person can split up the time in smaller times or go for a two-hour picnic at the park.

The phenomenon of nature as a healing power is also known as Naturopathic Medicine and is “the inherent self-organizing and healing process of living systems which establishes, maintains, and restores health.” (Snider, P., & Zeff, J.L.). In less complex terms, nature is good for you – go out and wiggle your toes in the grass, smell a rose, stop to watch the neighborhood squirrel, or watch the wind blow through the trees in your back yard.

Many caregivers put off self-care and “getting out for a minute” because they feel they cannot leave their parent or care receiver home alone. Here are a few recommendations to get in a little nature:

· Sit by an open window, feel the breeze on your face, and listen to the sounds of nature.

· If you live in a location with an outdoor mailbox, stand an extra 5 minutes by the mailbox every day and notice the living things nearby. Stop and read your mail on the front step or on an outdoor chair.

· Take your care receiver on an outdoor wheelchair scavenger hunt. Just going around the block for ten minutes can help you both unwind. Notice changes or objects in the local gardens and yards.”

Kent and I both see a local Functional Medicine doctor. Google says “Functional medicine determines how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual.”

When we were recently visiting with our doctor we told him about the request for Kent to sit with his bare feet in the grass for 20 minutes a day. He told us that there is research documenting that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons that help ground us and help neutralize free radicals. He also said that if there is one person with his bare feet in the grass and that person is holding hands with multiple people, forming a chain, that they can detect this energy in the person at the end of the chain.

Recent research has emphasized the significance of charge transfer in relation to the scavenging or neutralization of free radicals delivered to sites of injury during and after the oxidative burst. Evidence comes from studies of the role of electrons in mitigating the consequences of inflammation when living systems are connected to the earth (earthing). The phenomenon helps explain how bodywork and movement therapies can facilitate the resolution of acute or chronic injuries, and how patients with inflammatory conditions may "deplete" a therapist during hands-on treatments. It is suggested that barefoot contact with the earth as well as hands-on and hands-off therapies facilitate healing by stimulating the migration of charges into sites of acute or chronic inflammation. One hypothesis to explain the effects of earthing is that charges from the ground substance reservoir prevent "collateral damage" to healthy tissues in the vicinity of an injury. A second hypothesis is that earthing allows electrons to replenish charge in the ground substance reservoirs, making electrons available throughout the body.J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2009 Jul;13(3):215-28. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2008.06.005. Epub 2008 Jul 30.

For most of my family, going outside happens very little because of lack of interest and motivation. When Michael and Chad are having a hard time staying awake I always have them go for a walk. The excuse that I use is that they need to get their mail. They seem to be more alert and able to stay awake after they walk up the hill to their mailbox. I always thought that it was because of exposure to the sun’s rays giving them Vitamin D. I didn’t realize that it might be due to the electrical energy that they absorb from their contact with the earth.

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