As we begin our June series on the importance of Self Care -
let's talk about our brain for a minute with an excerpt from www.theneuroclinic.org
Our autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulates the function of all our organs and balances our sympathetic (which controls our fight or flight reaction in response to stress) and parasympathetic (which promotes our rest and digestive functions) nervous systems. There are outdoor activities that activate the sympathetic branch, and outdoor activities that activate more parasympathetic activity. Exciting activities, such as mountain biking, climbing, skiing, sky diving and running, activate the sympathetic branch, giving us boosts of cortisol. In periodic small doses, cortisol can improve memory and increase thermogenesis, an increase in body temperature that helps burn fat.
That being said, we need a balance of activation of the parasympathetic nervous system and activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Too much and too frequent activation of the sympathetic nervous system can lead to several problems. Luckily, nature also provides excellent opportunities to activate the parasympathetic branch. This branch is activated by restful and relaxing activities, such as meditation, watching the sunset and deep-breathing after a long hike. The parasympathetic branch promotes healing, cellular regeneration, improved digestion and pain relief. The right balance of the autonomic nervous system promotes incredible health benefits, keeping us coming back for more every weekend.
Read more on the benefits of being outside here