No matter where you are with your prostate health—from monitoring your PSA to undergoing treatment—dealing with this new chapter of your life can be stressful.
And any extra stress can make your situation even worse.
Extreme stress can flood your body with inflammation, which creates a fertile environment for prostate cancer to grow and spread. Stress can also weaken your immune system and make it harder for it to find and fight cancer cells.
Stress also raises your risk of anxiety and depression, which can make managing your prostate cancer more of a challenge since you are less motivated to follow your regular healthy behaviors like eating right and exercising.
This is why stress management is one of the foundations of my CaPLESS Method. Anything that can help control stress is a winner.
Thankfully, there are many proven ways to reduce stress—from exercise to meditation to listening to music. Yet, two recent studies found that another easy stress-buster is to simply hang out with Mother Earth for a while.
And the great news is that you don’t have to be Mr. Outdoorsman and spend long weekends camping in the woods or hiking mountains to bask in nature’s healing powers.
Study #1: Being in Nature Lowers Stress Hormones
The first study found that connecting with nature can lower stress hormone levels.
But what I found most interesting was that you don’t need to devote much time to your nature outing—20 minutes can do the trick—nor does the environment matter as long as you find it appealing.
Over an eight-week period, the researchers had people spend at least 10 minutes, three days a week, in an outdoor venue of their choosing, such as backyards, parks, and urban green areas.
The people also refrained from any physical or emotional stimuli beforehand, like exercise and engaging in social media.
Saliva samples were taken to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The researchers found that those who spent at least 20 to 30 minutes in their nature setting saw their cortisol levels drop the most. After that time, the stress-reduction benefit declined.
Study #2: Being in Nature Improves Health & Wellbeing
The second study had a similar conclusion and found that spending at least two hours a week in nature was linked with good health and well-being. Like with the first study, this one also showed that the benefit peaked by a certain time (in this case, two hours total per week).
Another bonus: It didn’t matter how you got in those two hours either—one long visit or several shorter ones.
Implementing the Conclusions of These Studies
Of course, nature spots are not always readily available, so take what you can. For instance, I live in a city (well, the outskirts of New York City) so being in nature can be tough. Still, there are parks everywhere. There’s one five minutes from my house. While I don’t yet spend two hours a week there, any time I can visit is time well spent.
Taking a nature personal day is also good. I spent the 4th of July holiday on the beach and I felt awesome in that environment even if it was just for the day.
You could also try to pair your nature time with workout time. When you exercise outside, you get the best of both worlds. And if you do this with someone else, or a group, you connect more with other people, which has health benefits of its own.
So when you need a stress break, spend some quality time with a favorite nature spot. It’s a small effort with a big reward.