Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
It was brought to my attention by a special 91-year-old whose friend reads The Hawai’i Herald and shared her experience of the power of nature in helping her to stay sane and balanced during these COVID-19 times. Just taking time out of her day to observe the mountains, the clouds, the stars and the exquisite sustaining power of nature right from the comfort of her high-rise condo. We are truly blessed to live in Hawai‘i nei and surrounded by beauty everywhere you look. I will say that at times even I get caught up in the busyness of my life and don’t take the time to get out into nature.
I was inspired by this reader who shared a touching experience of just observing a little bird engaged with a piece of paper or tissue and seemed to be “playing” and how nature has brought her peace during uncertain times. The simple fact is that we are literally a walk or just a short drive away from the ocean, a mountain or a park, which can provide the perfect playground for us to immerse ourselves in nature. But for those of us who were born and raised in the city like myself, this hasn’t always been an easy thing to do (I will admit that I don’t like getting mud and sand in places that are uncomfortable). Actually, if it wasn’t for my experiences as a Boy Scout hiking the Nä Pali coast on Kaua‘i, the Haleakalä Summit on Maui, the Mauna Loa summit on Hawai‘i island, and various hiking trails on O‘ahu, I wouldn’t have ever been exposed to the raw and nourishing power of nature. Assisted also by growing up in the 70s, 80s and 90s with no cell phones or social media to tempt me from being present in the moment, being submerged in nature helped to develop my ability to not need some external device to keep me entertained.
You are the best advocate for your own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. It doesn’t take much to get a boost from nature and for it to help you. So, I decided to share the simple power of the sun, negative ions and a grounding exercise to help you enhance your overall wellness.
Miraculous Sun Power
Although the sun has gotten a bad rap due to the potential of getting skin cancer, researchers from the University of Edinburgh in the UK suggest moderate sun exposure provides health benefits that outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer. The one well-known reason for getting out in the sun is to encourage the production of the powerful vitamin D. Discoveries by scientists and numerous studies have shown that vitamin D helps to improve your bone health by stimulating absorption of calcium and phosphorus and improves brain function by spurring nerve growth in the hippocampus. Some studies have also shown that vitamin D can decrease your risk of breast and colon cancer. Other benefits from sun exposure: helps to lower blood pressure by releasing nitric oxide; improves your mood by producing serotonin, a mood-lifting hormone; improves sleep quality by stopping the production of melatonin and regulates your circadian rhythm; lessens Alzheimer’s symptoms; shown to heal some skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, jaundice; and boosts your immune system by increasing your white blood cells. I am not in any means recommending you sunbathe for hours, but to use your own judgment and even though experts have recommended no more than 15 to 20 minutes of direct sunlight daily for a healthy adult, check in with your body and see how much sun exposure you need.
Nature Provides Negative Ions
After coming across the benefits of exposing yourself to the sun, I could’ve ended my article there, but I wanted to share a few more things that you can do to enhance your mental and emotional wellness. So here they are. First, go to the ocean and even if you don’t like to swim, just being near the crashing of the waves will help to calm your mind and emotions. The reason for this is due to negative ions, which are formed in nature by the rain, wind and sunlight, which create these microscopic molecules. Research over the past 100 years has shown that negative ions have an antimicrobial effect, along with influencing serotonin levels in your brain, which improves your mood and stabilizes your emotions. If you don’t like the beach or ocean, then go to your park, hug a tree, sit by a running stream and even sing in the rain.
The last thing I want to share is an exercise that can help you get energetically grounded, but it takes some envisioning and a vivid imagination. This may sound a little hokey, but if you find yourself having a hard time focusing, concentrating or feeling amiss this exercise quickly gets you centered. Go somewhere outside in nature, preferably your yard, the beach or a park in order to have your bare feet touch the grass, dirt or sand. If you don’t have a yard or if you can’t get out in nature, you can also do this exercise in your house. So, stand if you can, but if not sit comfortably so that your feet are touching the floor. Close your eyes and then start to take some deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. After a few breaths, begin to envision energetic roots extending from your feet down into the ground as far as you can. Then as you breathe in, you want to visualize pulling up the energy of Mother Earth up into your feet and up your spine all the way up through the top of your head. You may start to feel warm or energized. I’ve learned through experience that through this process you can send all your fears and worries down, as well as all of your positive thoughts and love too. This way you can receive the grounding energy of Mother Earth and at the same time give back to her as well.
In closing, know that nature is a free and inexpensive resource, which can help you stay healthy and well. I’m grateful to one of our dedicated readers who in her own words, “Taking time … to just breathe and enjoy, refreshed my spirit,” served to inspire me.
Don’t just take the time to observe nature, but more consciously get out and BE in nature.
Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the Doctor of Chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic (drchadsato.com), in Mänoa valley, O‘ahu, on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.