How to Boost Brain Power and Memory Naturally
From a walk in the woods to a stroll through a city park, spending time in nature is one of the best things you can do to keep your brain healthy and happy.
That’s because we’re more mindful in nature, helping our brain to de-stress, refocus, and revitalize. Feeling the breeze or a gust of wind, the instability of a grassy surface, and the reflexive avoidance of a puddle, require the brain and body to work together to navigate a changing environment.
Igniting the senses
A popular practice in Japan for 40-plus years, shinrin-yoku or forest bathing, is an accepted part of Japanese preventative health care. It draws from the knowledge that humans are part of nature, and we have a deep need to feel that connection through the different senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch.
While the word forest is in the name of this practice, there’s no need to head into the deep woods. Visit your local park, a favorite trail, or any natural setting and silence your phone and other devices. Be in the moment.
When we’re exposed to nature and free from the distractions of daily life our cognitive abilities increase, including memory, brain flexibility, and concentration.
Experiencing nature is also known to increase self-esteem, boost immunity, and reduce levels of harmful hormones like cortisol, which is produced by stress, heart rate, and blood pressure. Studies have also linked spending time in nature to reducing anxiety and rumination, both of which have negative long-term effects on the brain.
The secret’s in the trees
Dr. Qing Li, a world leader in the science of forest bathing, says the health secrets in trees may lie in the higher concentration of oxygen in a forest and the presence of plant chemicals called phytoncides — natural oils that make up a plant’s defense system against bacteria, insects and fungi. Evergreens are the largest producers of phytoncides, so walking in an evergreen forest may have the greatest health benefits.
In Li’s book, “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness,” he encourages forest bathers to find a spot they like, sit for a while, and enjoy the scenery. According to Li, the effects of a day trip into a forested park can last up to seven days.
Whether you are looking for a tranquil ‘bath’ in the woods or enjoy a more vigorous experience via a good old-fashioned walk in the woods, your brain – and your body – will thank you.