Awe is the positive emotion you experience when you suddenly feel like a small speck in the universe. Think about the goosebumps you get standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, looking over the vast Indian Ocean, or riding your bicycle surrounded by the Tirol mountains. Awe might happen while being somewhere in nature; observing a mind blowing piece of art or architecture; listening to someone's theories, musical compositions, or inspirational speeches; or sensing a divine intervention. Researchers are finding that beyond the benefits of experiencing positive emotions, experiencing awe lowers cytokine levels. Why is this important for you to know? Elevated levels of cytokine are common in people with depression. The increased cytokine levels block the release of serotonin and dopamine, which help regulate moods, appetite, memory, and sleep (Anwar, 2015). Experiencing awe is natural mood booster, as I'm sure you've experienced.
Doctors are recognizing the benefits of nature to the point where some are writing prescriptions for patients to get outside. Beyond physical health benefits, nature is proven to:
(Thank you, Erica, for sharing this funny clip with me.)
One key when starting out is to ensure that you do remember to exercise moderately because getting above the point where you can talk to someone means your mood enhancing benefits are delayed by thirty minutes after your exercise, while moderate exercise allows the benefits to kick in five minutes after you finish (Weir, 2016). Perhaps this will be more encouraging. Sometimes the first time you head out to exercise after being inactive, you go overboard. Sore muscles the next day might be a deterrent. Start slow and be patient with yourself, but get moving.
Get moving and take care,
Meadows,Charlson. "How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing?" Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. University of Minnesota, 25 June 2014. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.
"Feeling Tired, Irritable, Stressed Out? Try Nature." National Geographic. YouTube, 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 10 Jan. 2016.
Taylor, Adrian. "Physical Activity and Mental Health." Physical Activity and Mental Health. RC Psych, 1 Nov. 2012. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.
Weir, Kirsten. "The Exercise Effect." Monitor on Psychology. APA, December 2011. Web. 8 Jan.2016.
Photos are mine.