“Nature is literally alive with trees and critters and the elements. Your environment rubs off on you. So, being in the presence of so much life and so much energy makes you more conscious of the life inside you.”
How much time do you spend in nature compared to how much time you spend indoors, staring at a screen?
I recently realized that my screen-to-nature ratio was way out of balance, and so I decided to do something about it.
In today’s podcast episode, I’m inviting you to take two simple actions in the next 24 hours—one of which I’ve been doing for years to naturally heal my body, and another that has recently become a game changer for me in ways I could have never predicted.
- How spending time in nature lowers stress, reduces anxiety and depression, improves your short-term memory, boosts creativity, and recharges batteries.
- What “earthing” or “grounding” is and how to do it.
- Why I started meditating outdoors in the evening as the sun sets–and how it helps me fall asleep in a peak mental and emotional state.
- How to make a commitment to try these techniques right now.
THIS EPISODE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
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Hal Elrod: Welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and thank you so much for tuning in today. I appreciate you being here and listening. And today's episode, it is a short one. It is actually one of, if not the quickest, shortest, most to-the-point podcast episode that I've ever done for you. And I think we kept it under 20 minutes, so I'm excited for that. And the reason is today it's just a simple anecdotal invitation, anecdotal meaning it's an experience that I've recently had in my own life that's really enhanced my life and I'm giving you two action steps this week. It's very actionable. This is you doing two simple things this week and leaving me a comment, hopefully, ideally, letting me know how it goes for you. One of the actions I've been doing for years, ever since I got cancer, as a way to naturally heal my body, boost my energy, lower my stress, and more. That's the first action step. The second action step is something I've only done recently, but it's been a game-changer for me. It has absolutely enhanced my life in ways that I never would have predicted and I'm excited to share it with you.
And again, these are two really simple activities you can do that have to do with reconnecting to nature, reconnecting to Mother Earth, getting outdoors, getting your feet dirty, not actually some of you are going, "Whoa, whoa. Not feet dirty.” Not just getting your feet dirty, but it's getting outside in nature, reconnecting with Earth, reconnecting with Mother Nature the way that we were intended to. So, that's today's episode. And again, it's very quick, it's anecdotal. I'm not going to share with you a bunch of research. There is one study that I share, I guess, that's fair, but this isn't an in-depth, deep-dive, scientific exploration into the benefits of connecting with nature. This is really just, look, common sense where we've gotten so far away from connecting with nature the way that our ancestors did. And I'm inviting you to do what I've done because it's benefited me and I want to pay it forward and invite you to try it as well.
All right. So, today's a quick one. Before we dive in, I want to take just a minute or two to thank our sponsor. You know them. You’d love them maybe if you've tried them. It's Organifi. And here's the thing. We're talking about connecting with nature today as a way to enhance your mental, physical, emotional, and even spiritual components of your being, your overall being. And when it comes to physical, your body is an amazing organic machine. It turns food into energy. It heals wounds, supports your consciousness, and so much more. But it needs the right fuel and signals to function at its best. And some of those signals include adaptogens. If you're not familiar, these are compounds that balance hormones and help you deal with the stress of life in a healthier way. If you're feeling tired, these compounds give you a boost of energy. If you're stressed, they help you return to a natural state of calm. They literally help you adapt to the stress of life.
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And now, without further ado. I'm inviting you to take two very specific actions in the next 24 hours to help you reconnect with the power of nature.
Hal Elrod: Hello, friends. It's Hal Elrod. And today we're going to talk about harnessing the power of nature. And this is really based on two practices that I've implemented in my life, one for years now, about five years ever since I was diagnosed with cancer, and looking for natural remedies, natural ways to heal my body. I discovered earthing or what's known as grounding. Those are kind of interchangeable terms. So, that's one practice we're going to talk about today that you can implement immediately. And the second practice is simply meditating in nature. And this has been a game-changer for me. I've done it just for a few weeks now and it has absolutely, honestly, rivals the Miracle Morning in terms of how beneficial I've found it. It's incredible. And I do it in the evening and we'll talk about that. First, though, I want to share some scientific studies with you on the benefits of spending time in nature. Right? What's the reasoning for this?
But before that, I want us to consider the problem if there is a problem. And let me ask you this. Be honest. How much time do you spend staring at a screen each day? How much time do you spend staring whether it's your phone or your computer? For most Americans, a Nielsen Total Audience Report, a study in 2016 showed that that number clocks in at more than 10 hours. Think about that for a second. We're awake roughly 16 to 17 hours. That's if we're sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night. And of those 16, 17 hours, 10 of them are staring at a screen. And for me, the wake-up call, this was a few weeks ago, was when I thought about the ratio of how much time I spend staring at a screen versus how much time I spend in nature. And I don't think we need scientific studies to tell us what common sense would, which is what our bodies are designed to do? What's healthier for us, right? Staring at the blue light or the white light of a screen or being out in nature, mother nature, connecting with the earth.
And common sense, I think, at least for me it would say, "Yeah. I should be spending more time in nature than on a screen,” but I'm sure as hell not in nature for 10 hours a day. I might get 30 to 60 minutes. And I think that's probably above average. So, we've been relying on technology increasingly over the years, and we've also been wearing rubber-soled shoes so we're not standing on the earth. We're not connecting with that magnetic electrical field that is the Earth. And you may be aware for me about seven months ago, eight months ago, my wife and I, we moved out of the city, about 30 minutes out of the city. Out into the country, we bought a ranch. I’ve been spending more time outdoors than ever before. Now, why is it important to spend time in nature? I'm going to share with you five really compelling reasons.
And before I do that, according to the book, Your Brain on Nature, scientific studies have shown that natural environments can have remarkable benefits for human health. Okay. That's kind of generic. What are those benefits? Well, according to the American Psychological Association, psychological research is advancing our understanding of how time in nature can improve our mental health, right, check, I'll use some of that, and sharpen our cognition. Again, benefits that I'm interested in. And I would imagine you are too. Scientific studies have shown that natural environments can have remarkable benefits for human health. Natural environments are more likely to promote positive emotions, I'll take some of those, and walking in nature have been associated with heightened physical and mental energy. Nature's also been found to have a positive impact on children who have been diagnosed with impulsivity, hyperactivity, and attention deficit disorder.
That's something for me, personally, having my kids outdoors now so much more often than they used to be because not only do we send them outside to play but they have chores every day. In fact, in the morning they're not allowed to eat until our chickens have eaten, until our turtle has eaten. We have a big 38-year-old 100-something-pound tortoise outside, and until our sheep have eaten. We just got two new sheep, our first sheep a few weeks ago. So, the kids are outside connecting with nature, getting their hands dirty with the animals. And as much as they complain, I do know the benefits of it. So, I want to dive in real quick to five very specific scientifically-proven benefits of spending time in nature.
Number one, nature lowers stress. There is a form of nature therapy in Japan that is called or it's pronounced, I believe, shinrin-yoku. It's also known as forest bathing. And the first major study of this form of nature therapy was conducted in 1995. It found that participants who walked among cedar trees for 40 minutes, I’d imagine I don't know that you need them to be cedar trees, I don't know that it has to be 40 minutes but this was the study, they had lower cortisol levels, cortisol levels, that's a key marker of stress, compared to those who walked in an indoor setting set to the same temperature and humidity. So, the other environmental factors were the same but they were walking indoors compared to outdoors and they had significantly lower cortisol levels, those that spent time in nature.
Number two, the second benefit is it reduces anxiety and depression. If you want to improve your mood and ease anxiety and depression, which I do, I'm sure you do too, get outside. According to the National Academy of Science, people who walk in nature, outdoor environment, natural outdoor environments show lower levels of depression. And it might not be feasible for you to go walk through the forest or stroll along the beach every day but this study underscores the importance of incorporating many outdoor adventures into your life. A walk in your local park will do the trick, right? Standing in your backyard on the dirt, we’re going to talk about grounding here in a few minutes, but that can be a game-changer. And the ideal amount of time is 30 minutes from what I found. But sometimes for me, I just go out there for 10 or 15 minutes. It’s usually after my lunch break and I put my feet on the ground. I'll either sit on a towel or lay on a towel and get some sun. If I have time to lay out and get the sun in the middle of the summer, I'll lay a towel on the ground so there's very little barrier to me and the earth. Take my shirt off, you know, wearing shorts, and I'll go lay out and get some sun. Now, again, if you don't have time to lay out and get a tan and lay on the earth, just going outside, taking your shoes off, and standing on the earth and connecting with that electromagnetic field can reduce anxiety and depression.
The third benefit of spending time in nature, it improves short-term memory. In a study done by University of Michigan, a group of participants took a walk around an arboretum, think like a zoo for trees, and the other half walked down a paved city street. When both groups did a memory test before and after their walks, those who had walked among trees did almost 20% better than they had done prior to walking. Whereas the result of those who walked in the city showed little or no change. Right. So, again, I don't know about you, but my short-term memory, I struggle with that so I'm all for anything that I can do to improve it.
Number four, spending time in nature boosts creativity. What's the best thing you can do if you're having trouble finding inspiration, you know, for a creative task or trying to solve a complex problem? You've done this probably. You get outside and go for a walk, right? This will shift your perspective. It gets your blood flowing and it gets your creative juices moving. And there was actually a study done at the University of Kansas that showed that people who disconnected from technology and spent just four days in nature were 50% better at finding creative solutions to problems. Now, again, that study was four days in nature. For me, I'm more concerned with daily rituals and rhythms where I'm getting outside for 10 minutes in the morning or 30 minutes in the morning or 30 minutes after lunch or 30 minutes of meditation in the evening, which we'll talk about or 10 minutes. It's whatever you can do, right? Whatever time you can spend in nature, however much is great, right? The more the better. But don't feel like all or nothing where, “I can't get 40 minutes to walk among cedar trees like they do in Japan.” Right. That's fine. Do whatever you can do.
The fifth benefit, spending time in nature recharges your batteries. Think about this for a second. Again, let's go to common sense, and then we'll get into a study, but have you ever come back from a weekend trip to the mountains or camping and felt totally rejuvenated? You know, even if you have sore legs from a long hike, then that's because spending time in Mother Nature can revitalize you. And there are several studies that were published by the Journal of Environmental Psychology that demonstrated spending time outdoors for as little as 20 minutes per day. So, we're not talking anything monumental. Twenty minutes per day makes people feel more alive. And it makes perfect sense since nature is literally alive with trees and critters and the elements. Your environment rubs off on you. So, being in the presence of so much life and so much energy makes you more conscious of the life inside you.
So, again, five benefits. Number one, spending time in nature lowers stress. Number two, it reduces anxiety and depression. Number three, it improves short-term memory. Number four, it boosts creativity. Number five, it recharges your batteries. It revitalizes you. If those are benefits that you want, and I can't imagine there's a person on the planet that doesn't want one if not all five of those, I want all five of those benefits, spending time in nature is key.
And here are the two really specific actionable ways you can do this on a daily basis. And I'm encouraging you, I'm inviting you, I'm challenging you to take these two actions today, or at least in the next 24 hours. The first is grounding or also known as earthing. So, the earth is like a gigantic battery, right? It contains a natural, subtle electrical charge. It’s a special kind of energy that's present in the ground and grounding or earthing is actually an emerging field of study that explores the beneficial effects on your system when you are connecting to Earth, your system, your nervous system, your cognitive system, or every physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspect of you. When you make a direct physical contact with the earth through your bare feet or by lying in the grass or sitting on a towel, you reconnect electrically to the battery of the planet.
And this contact with the Earth helps to balance the flow of energy in your physiology. And it's been shown to reduce inflammation, reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve circulatory function, sleeping rhythms, and mood. The benefits are clear indicators that the human body is designed to be in direct contact with the earth. So, here's how I used to do grounding when I had cancer. I would go out every morning and I would just stand out there for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes and I would be barefoot on the ground. That evolved. I eventually decided not to do it in the morning, and once I was kind of through my cancer journey, it became a post-lunch activity where I would go and I would actually sit in a chair, but I would be barefoot and I would have my feet in our backyard, and I would often read a book or I would meditate or both, and I would let my food digest. My food was digesting anyway. So, all the blood was away from my brain into my stomach so I wasn't ready to go back to work and be at my best.
So, I would eat lunch for 30 minutes, and then I would ground for 30 minutes. And so, that is my routine now. To this day, that's when I do my grounding. But in the summertime, I take my shirt off, I get in shorts, I eat my lunch for 30 minutes, and then I lay a towel on our backyard. A towel is not enough of a barrier to stop that electrical field. The current of the earth can still flow through that towel into your body. So, I kill multiple birds with one stone. I'm relaxing, I'm spending time in nature, and I'm grounding my entire body on the earth and I'm sunbathing. I'm getting vitamin D and I'm tanning my skin for vanity purposes. Right? So, that's the earthing practice that I'm inviting you to try. And again, if you can't do 30 minutes, do five, do ten, do whatever you can do and you might try it the way that I do, which is again eat lunch for 30 minutes and then use the second half of your lunch break to actually spend time grounding or earthing. Again, those terms are interchangeable.
And last but not least, this has been a game-changer for me. It's meditating outside in the evenings. Up until this point, I've always meditated indoors. It's during my Miracle Morning and I usually don't meditate in the evening. I do kind of a meditation, I guess. It's a gratitude practice for bed. I've shared that on previous podcast episodes. I call it my miracle evening, and it's simply running through my mind, thinking of things I'm grateful for, smiling as I fall asleep every night so that I go to bed and fall asleep in a peak mental and emotional state with no stress because I'm not thinking about the things I'm stressed about. I'm just thinking about the things that make me feel really, really grateful, really good. I go to bed feeling grateful and at peace, and I wake up feeling the same. That's my nighttime before bed practice.
But a few weeks ago, I don't even remember what prompted this. It might have been the realization that I wasn't spending enough time in nature. But I decided to go outside and meditate in our backyard. Again, I laid a towel down so that I don't have bugs biting my legs. I laid a towel down and then I spent, I've been doing about 20 to 30 minutes but, again, if you can do ten, do whatever you can do, and I sit facing the sunrise. So, I go in my backyard around 7 p.m. It's when the sun is setting and I meditate. And this is the first time I've ever really meditated consistently in nature. And it's been windy the last week. The wind is blowing and I feel it against my skin. I feel the sun kissing my face as the sun is setting. I hear the sounds of nature and it's hard to put into words. You're just going to take my word for it and give it a try but, to me, I don't even know, umpteen times more beneficial than meditating inside my house.
Meditating in nature has been such an enriching experience.
And so, I'm inviting you to give it a try. I'm inviting you to take action on these two practices. Number one. Spend some time grounding. Again, walk barefoot. Sit or lie on the earth. Make time to regularly ground your body in the electromagnetic field of the planet, allowing your bare skin to touch the earth, again, ideally for 30 minutes a day but, again, do whatever you can do. And number two, try meditation in nature. As I said personally, I do it in the evening at sunset. I feel so peaceful. My stress lowers and I come in recharged and rejuvenated and I reconnect with my family as my best self. That's one of the benefits of evening meditation is that you go through your day and maybe you're reactive, maybe you experienced stress, and then at the end of the day, doing this meditation in nature, I'm able to reframe all of the challenges that I face during the day. I'm able to gain clarity on what I can do better the next day, and I'm able to lower my cortisol levels and feel peace, a deep sense of peace and calm and connection to the Earth and to myself and to spirit, higher power, whatever you want to call it.
These two practices, to spend time in nature between grounding or earthing each day, I do mine at lunchtime and then I go back outside in the evening for that meditation, these have been game changers and I just want to pay these forward and give you a chance to try them. So, here's what I'm asking. Here's what I'm challenging you to do. Commit to try one or ideally both of these practices this week, and then please leave me a comment. In fact, leave me a comment now to let me know you're committed, right? We're more likely to follow through if we make a commitment to somebody else. So, go to HalElrod.com/428. This is Episode 428. HalElrod.com/428. Leave me just a quick comment. Take like one minute right now and let me know, "Hal, I'm committed today or in the next 24 hours to do some grounding.” You could tell me how much, how long, 10 minutes of grounding and 10 minutes of evening meditation in nature. And I'll come back and let you know how it goes, right?
And then come back after your first time. Let me know how it goes. Go back to that same link, HalElrod.com/428, and give me a report. Give me your feedback. Was it a game-changer for you like it was for me? The very first evening meditation I did was a game-changer. In all fairness, grounding doesn't feel quite as profoundly beneficial for me. It's still beneficial, and I know how important it is so I do it every day. But that evening meditation, if you only do one, I encourage you to meditate in nature every day. And if you can't do it in the evening, fine. Do it in the morning, do it in the afternoon, do it whenever. You can combine the two. You can ground and meditate in nature at the same time. But please come, let me know. Leave me a comment, let me know you're going to do it, and then come back and let me know how it goes, HalElrod.com/428.
Goal Achievers, members of The Miracle Morning Community, I love you, I appreciate you. I'm excited to share these nature practices with you and I can't wait to hear how they go for you. Talk to you all next week.