Wednesday, 19 March 2014

GETTING BACK TO NATURE - A Guest Post by Emily Ehlers

It gives me oodles of pleasure, pride and cheerleading pom poms to introduce Emily Ehler's to you all. Emily, besides having a freakin RAD name, is an absolute earth angel. She is a mama, blogger, health coach, friend, daughter, wife & dedicated lover of life. She oozes passion & vitality & is one of those people who lights you up just by BEING there. She has graciously shared her words of wisdom in today's blog as she discusses a prevalent & real problem in our community - our severe lack of connection to nature. So brew up a tea, put up your feet and soak up these inspired words from one of the world's most incredible women.
We have all heard of Attention Deficit Disorder but what about Nature-Deficit Disorder? Yep, it’s a real thing.
Nature-deficit disorder: a reduced awareness and diminished ability for adults and children to find meaning in the life around them, due to a reduced amount of interaction with the natural environment.
Us humans are not going outside enough and there is an ever-growing list of credible studies that show this is a huge factor in the rise of behavioral problems, mental illness and obesity. Oh and not to mention the degradation of our society’s happiness and health. No biggie.
We are constantly distracted by flashing screens, controlled environments and artificial lights and it goes against the universal law of nature. I – up until recently – was a shocker for retreating into a man-made existence. While I adore being outside there are some days where it just gets away and before I know it I am in bed without having felt fresh air on my skin. You know the days. You go from bed to car to office (where you eat at your desk) to car to bed. Or you get so caught up in menial housework or crazy children that before you know it the day is gone and the sun hasn’t kissed your cheeks.
Basically, going outside has become an option.
It is not an option.
It is a non-negotiable.
And beyond that, it’s fucking glorious!!!

Why should we go outside?

Need any extra persuasion…

Oxygen, glorious oxygen

We are made of cells and cells live off oxygen. If you stay in the same, closed off space all the time you are going to be breathing the same yucky air and depriving your body and brain of what it needs. Fresh air is full of negative ions (see below) and will invigorate you.

Negative Ions are Positive you oxymoron!

I am not scientifically wired so I am going to explain this in the crudest way that I am sure would disgust even a Year 8 science student. Negative Ions are good; they make us feel energized. Positive Ions are bastards; they make us feel dull.  Negatives ions are in their highest concentration near moving water – hence we feel amazing near the ocean. Positive ions are omitted from electronic equipment like TV’s and computer monitors or polluted air.  SO… get near those negative ions.
“Generally speaking, negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain, resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy”
Pierce J. Howard, PhD, The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind Brain Research. 

Vitamin D

Our bones are constantly growing and breaking down. However if you don’t have Vitamin D, you don’t have calcium absorption and you don’t have bone growth. So your bones are just breaking down. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to all sorts of nasties like depression, various cancers, heart disease, weight gain, autism and auto-immune disease.

Connection and Syncronicity

Since starting study with Institute of Integrative Nutrition I have been encourage to develop my spirituality and I have found it in nature and yoga. Those are the times when I feel connected and calm. Apparently when you are in tune with your spirituality  it can lead to synchronicity – i.e. the subtle interaction between an individual and a universal force (like nature). I wanted to share this quote from the principal of IIN because it is the most beautiful, poetic, heart-tickly note of encouragement to get outside that I have ever heard…
I believe that whatever force makes the day turn into night and night turn into day, and winter become spring and fall become winter; whatever keeps all the stars and planets going around perfectly in their orbits, creates new buds in the spring and moves old leaves to drop away in autumn, can surely look after this one little life of mine.
Joshua Rosenthal


Even though there are some pretty compelling reasons there, in this modern, busy, convenient world it can still be bloody hard some days. So I’ve compiled some easy ways to integrate your inside with your outside.

Sit outside for 10 minutes a day

There are NO excuses unless you live here. Go outside and sit still for 10 minutes – preferably near or under a tree. If you want extra gold stars you could meditate during this time. But otherwise just go and let your mind watch and wander. If it has been a mad day your verandah/porch/balcony/door step will suffice.

Do not break universal laws

There is no surprise at all that we are a culture plagued with insomnia and kidney disease when we trick our bodies into thinking it is daytime with bright lights and flashing screens. Of course we make incorrect food choices – like eating hearty, grounding meals in summer – when we are tricking our body with air conditioners cranked to sub-zero.  Controlling our environment like this breaks universal laws.
Don’t fight nighttime – turn of the TV, use lamps instead of lights, have a technology-free space a few hours before bed. Feel real feelings. Winter is cold, your first option should be a jumper before you heat the house. (Within reason obviously – for all you Siberians that are reading this). Always have a window open in your home, office or car. Even in winter. Even if it’s just one and just a crack.


Earthing (or grounding) is as simple as walking barefoot on the earth or (in fancy terms) connecting to the earth’s subtle electrical field. It’s all about those cheeky ions again. So if you are going for a walk and it’s safe to do so, try go barefoot to get an instant hit/re-connection with nature. Earthing has also been shown to reduce pain and inflammation and increase quality of sleep. If you can’t go barefoot though you can buy mats nowadays to have at your computer or under your mattress (seehere) to keep you grounded at all times.

Bring your outside in

Incorporate nature into your home. Get some plants, some fish, have curtains, windows and doors open. Surround yourself with natural fibers and materials. Reject chemicals.

Leave your car

If you can walk, do. Even though I never feel like it at the time, when I get home from the shops and I haven’t had to deal with bad drivers, cramped parking spots and getting my pram in and out of the car I always feel amazing.

Schedule catch ups around walks

Wine bars are so tempting. But for a fun change schedule dates and catch ups with friends around walks or activities. You can even pack up your own eco-cup with your own coffee or make the coffee shop or wine bar the end goal. Maybe don’t put the wine in your keep cup though.

Build it into your kids routine

Because I have a propensity to get stuck inside my house I have now built it into Lucy’s routine to ensure that I get outside – for her sake. We are out most mornings but I am now scheduling one hour every afternoon that is dedicated outside time. For older kids, maybe have a technology free hour. And get out there and play with them! Climb trees, get dirty, be a big kid.

Plant a garden

Whether it is in pots or in the ground get out there and get some plants growing. Then you are forced to go out and water them most days. Forced connection.

Eat outside

I saved the best for last. If you can, set up a little table outside and eat out there as much as possible. Obviously this is easiest in summer but if you can rug up and light a few candles and sit on a porch then do. For added romance try a picnic blanket.
I thought I would leave you with the lyrics to my favorite song (Green Garden by Laura Mvula). I play it ever morning because not only is it damn funky but if reminds me of everything I have spoken about above. You can see the video here, but for now here are the lyrics.
Take me outside, sit in the green garden
Nobody out there, but it’s okay now,
bathe in the sunlight, don’t mind if rain falls,
take me outside, sit in the green garden,
ooh ah, ooh ah oh,
ooh ah, ooh ah oh
And I’ll fly on the wings of a butterfly
high as a tree top and down down again
putting my bag down, taking my shoes off
walk in the carpet of green velvet
Dance in my garden like we used to,
ooh ah, ooh ah oh
Dance in my garden like we used to,
ooh ah, ooh ah oh
Take me outside, sit in the green garden
nobody out there, but it’s okay now,
bathe in the sunlight, don’t mind if rain falls,
take me outside in the green garden
I’ll go, wherever you go, wherever you take me, I’ll go
I’ll go, wherever you go, wherever you take me, I’ll go
Blessings and cuddles to the power of Emily squared x 

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