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Our Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries


The Benefits of Nature

June 15, 2020

Research shows that spending time in nature is helpful for your mood and mental health.  Even just getting outside and letting the sun shine on your face for a little while can help.  Many people even suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder due to a lack of sunlight in the winter months.   Think about how difficult things have been for many people with "Stay At Home" orders, closed parks, and the closed lakefront in Chicago. Once we had one nice day of weather everyone was out on the lakefront and in the city parks.  It made them feel better.  I know just sitting in my backyard feeling the sun on my face and my feet in the grass felt so good.  

There are many theories on why being outside in nature can lift your mood and reduce your anxiety.  What does the research show?  The research has shown that spending time in green spaces can help with mood disorders and anxiety.  Exercising outdoors is even more helpful.  Research into ecotherapy (a type of formal treatment which involves doing activities outside in nature) has shown it can help with mild to moderate depression. This might be due to combining regular physical activity and social contact with being outside in nature.( 2020)

If it is difficult for you to bring yourself to exercise right now, just taking a leisurely walk with your dog can considerably improve how you feel.  Taking the time to get out into nature and experience it can be very rewarding.  If you can get out with a friend or your pet to experience nature the benefits increase.  Just sitting on a park bench and noticing the color of the sky, the leaves blowing in the breeze, and listening to the birds chirp can lighten your woes and change your mindset.  Focusing on what you see, hear, and feel in nature for a period of time is even an effective form of mindfulness.  So take that time to stop and smell the roses!  It really is good for you. 


Can a Cup of Tea Help You Relax?

November 17, 2020

The answer is yes!  Of course it depends on what kind of tea you drink.  Too much caffeine can hype you up, so keeping it under too many milligrams of caffeine is important.  Many types of tea contain an amino acid called L-Theanine, especially green tea.  This amino acid found in tea leaves is shown to help reduce anxiety and help you feel relaxed.  Drinking a warm cup of decaffeinated tea is soothing and can be a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual.  Try drinking tea that contains L-Theanine and it can promote relaxation and improve your sleep.  

L-Theanine can elevate GABA, serotonin, and dopamine levels in the brain.  These chemicals are known to increase feelings of calm and promote relaxation. In addition, L-Theanine is known to decrease levels of chemicals in the brain known to cause anxiety and stress.  Although L-Theanine promotes relaxation it is not a sedative.  Just helping you destress and slip into a calm state assists in falling asleep and staying asleep.   

There are many benefits of L-Theanine such as reducing stress, improving sleep, lowering your heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and enhancing attention.  Yes, enhancing attention!  One of the great things about L-Theanine is that it promotes a relaxed state without causing sleepiness.  Using L-Theanine facilitates increases in attention and memory by decreasing stress hormones.  When you are anxious and stressed it negatively affects your ability to retain and to retrieve information.  Research shows using L-Theanine may boost your attention span and reaction time.  

It is always advised to consult your physician prior to adding any supplements to your diet.  If you are using medication to lower your blood pressure or have low blood pressure consult with your physician on what amount of L-Theanine is safe for you to use. 

So on these cool fall nights, steep yourself a warm relaxing cup of tea, and slip into a calm and relaxed state.  Sweet dreams!   


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