Vitamin N: Have You Had Yours Today?

Ingrid Pincott, ND

Summer is a great time of year to take better care of yourself.  Count the days of summer with August 4th being about half way through. A fun goal is to do something every day that you can only do in the summer: hang the clothes on the line, eat a punnet of fresh blueberries in one go, have a beach picnic and watch the sunset or go somewhere away from the city to be enthralled by a star-studded sky.

In this “pell mell” or “sympathetic nervous system over-drive” of our busy life we all need summer to slow down and “sit on the dock of the bay and watch the tide roll away” as the song lyric goes.  It might be the best time of year where you vow to make some changes in your life.  For example say “No” to social media and hang on to your own power to choose what you want to come into your consciousness.  Aim to watch a lot less news on the TV or your devices and instead read it, to avoid the sensationalism. Take up a creative hobby like painting, crafting, photography or lose yourself in a good book, all of which stimulate the “parasympathetic or the conserving energy” of the nervous system. Note: the eReaders that are easier on your eyes and brain are the Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo. They do not have computer like screens as do tablet or pads and can be read in bright sunlight!

Grounding or “earthing” is a way to connect with “vitamin N” or vitamin Nature. Vitamin N is very calming for the parasympathetic nervous system Walking on a forest path or “shinrin-yoku” meaning forest bathing in Japanese, has been researched and found to improve the immune system. Being around waterfalls or the sea, walking on the earth in bare feet or working in the garden are all “nature cures” as taught by Dr Benedict Lust, one of the founders of naturopathic medicine.

Contemplation, meditation or mindfulness are other forms of vitamin N for the heart and the brain that can diminish stress and inflammation and therefore lower risk of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. This is called “neuro-cardiology” and looks at the heart not just as a pump but as an endocrine organ that produces hormones and responds to stress hormones as well. Warning signs of stress include loss of focus and mental clarity, lack of ability to relax and sleep, loss of self-esteem, tiredness, irritability and anger outbursts. Jon Kabat-Zinn provides wonderful techniques for mindfulness.

Use poetry and music to also stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. For example: Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks,

Today, like every other day, we wake up frightened. 
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. 
Let the beauty we love, be what we do. 
There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Music of any genre can be healing if it lowers your heart rate.  It may be classical, choral, or contemporary.

Look for inspiration in the animal kingdom by using the book “Animal Speak” by Ted Andrews to help you understand the challenges in your day to day life. For example an eagle flying overhead is reminding you to “become so much more that you now appear to be.”

These are all examples of vitamin N, those things that return you to your own innate natural rhythm in harmony with nature and allow you to sleep better and help restore overall health. You have half the summer left.  Go create a “wonderful life” that can then spill over into the other three seasons of the year.