I have just had a fantastic 5 days away in beautiful Scotland. We ate well and to balance it all out we exercised well too! I feel so replenished with all the fresh air we experienced on beautiful blue sky autumn days heading into Halloween time. We had hikes up Arthur’s seat in Edinburgh on day 1, on top of the Law in North Berwick on day 2, up to the William Wallace monument in Stirling on day 3 and into a gem of woodland nesting a gorgeous waterfall called Bracklinn Falls on the final day in the Trossachs National Park. We really got out and about and my husband with his knowledge of agriculture got to let the kids know that the lichen on the barks of the trees meant that the air was particularly good and fresh. They were taking it all in and even wanted to do some earthing in the river more about that again!
I have been spreading the gospel in recent months with many of my patients on the 4 pillars of health that are described so well in GP Dr. Rangan Chatterjee’s book called the 4 Pillar Plan.
I have been converted on this way of interpreting health for years but to see it outlined on paper made me very happy with the launch of this book in January this year as now I have a place to direct many of my eager and enthusiastic patients to dip in and read some case studies and evidence for themselves.
The book outlines that there are 4 areas of health which are so important to balance in all our lives. These are the areas of stress and its management and the areas of good nutrition, movement and sleep. He has 20 strategies sprinkled throughout the chapters, 5 in each health area.
The point I want to make is that with fresh air and getting out with family or on our own in nature we get to tick so many of these health balancing boxes in one fine swoosh. We get:
Stress reduction – some “me time” and/or family connection,
Mindful walking by taking it all in,
Social media detox,
Reduction in our stress hormone cortisol levels,
Endorphins (the bodies natural feel good messengers) with the exercise of walking on different terrains.
We get to get a great dose of vitamin D – even out on a cloudy day did you know that we absorb 10,000 lux units versus 500 – 1000 max in a brightly lit fluorescent room. This is good for bone health and helps to give us a better sleep - with the balancing out of our circadian rhythm with natural light.
Another worrying fact these days pointed out by Jay Shetty huge in the world of social media who inspires his audiences with great insightful videos on positive living is that the average person in the western world is inside 87% of the time, in transit another 6% of the time and outside only a tiny 7% section of an average day. When I thought about it I knew it rang quite true. Many a day can go by where you might only get outside for minutes by lunchtime and it’s in the effort of going outside for another walk at lunch or evening that you may get daylight for an hour plus. How many days would the kids have no outside time because of the addiction to screens if not for scheduled soccer training or other sports. This new awareness has been with me ever since and reminds me to try and make the effort to just get outside. My kids now might get out and cycle around the house 20 times some days – it all counts!
All I know is that we all have something that makes us feel good and in balance. It’s like our lynchpin. That “something” that makes us feel that we have had time and space. For me it has become the great outdoors more and more with every passing year. I crave it to feel grounded sometimes. Maybe it’s in my genes – having a mum at the age of 75 that still needs her daily walk to feel happy has been a good example!
We have come so far away from being connected with the earth and with each other and we know it so good for the body, mind, heart, and soul.
My kids just loved their time in the Scottish outdoors and now it’s back to more familiar haunts in Crucspullagadaun hill beside me in Manulla and Balla woodland trails.