It’s Time to Take Notice: What is Nature Deficit Disorder? – Part 2

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM


Read Part 1

Can Nature Deficit Disorder Affect Adrenal Fatigue?

What is nature deficit disorder and how does it link to adrenal fatigue?During times of stress and disconnection from the natural world, the body will eventually become so weary from combating stress and anxiety that it will develop Adrenal Fatigue (AF). Since the adrenal glands are the workhorse of the NEM Stress Response, they end up getting the worst of it when it comes to the demand placed on them. There can be many causes of AF including lack of sleep, anxiety, chronic inflammation, but here we will focus on what is nature deficit disorder and how it triggers AF.

Because there is not enough time to let the brain relax and reset in an individual who is experiencing nature deficit disorder, there is a high likelihood that it could cause that same person to fall into the throes of AFS. It all begins to tie together because those same effects that you are feeling due to your disconnection with nature can also cause you to feel so poorly that you don’t want to make any changes in order to return to the environment that will help you.

Once the negative cycle of AFS takes hold, your body will begin to weaken immunologically, have high levels of inflammation, feel lethargic, and can trigger even more anxiety and stress because you can’t get everything done that you needed to in the first place. This only serves to reinforce the pattern that will keep you down. Once stress lowers the ability of the body to fight back, it’s easy to see how people succumb to the negativity and avoid reintroduction to the outdoors.

It is one thing to adapt to a new environment, a concrete jungle of sorts, but it is quite different to completely abandon the therapeutic natural environment that gives so much peace and joy that we all need. Spending a little time in a green space doesn’t have to be a burden or exercise; you can simply sit down and relax to help your mind recover a bit from daily life. Refusing to take any time to admire and welcome our natural environments is likely to cause our bodies to become overrun and could easily be a cause of AF.

It needs to be mentioned that there are many causes of AF and just because you think it may be your lack of exposure to nature doesn’t mean that’s the case. Your issues might be broader than that of what nature deficit disorder is adding. If you think you are suffering from severe AF it is important to contact your healthcare practitioner and ensure that there isn’t anything else going on. Ignoring problems with your health can have consequences but being aware and proactive is always a good thing. Lastly, be sure to notice how your body is reacting to any changes that you make to be positive and that you’re acting safely and within proper guidelines of wellness.

What Is Nature Deficit Disorder and Fighting Back Against AFS

Beyond covering all of the different things to be worried about and negative effects of disconnecting from nature, now it’s time to talk about how to use all of it to your advantage. There is much to be learned from those who take time for themselves to allow for mental and physical healing. A large portion of our culture has thrown away those tenants in favor of the nonstop hustle.

What is nature deficit disorder? Can hiking alleviate its symptoms?A great way to limit the effects of the NEM Stress Response is to allow for time that is allotted specifically for relaxation. This can be difficult for some who like to be on the move. However, a quick stroll in your local park or a walk through the woods can do a great deal to ease your mind. When you can help relieve the burden on your brain that continued directed attention causes, you will allow for a reset of some processes. This is why the old adages of “take a hike” or “go play outside” have some ring of truth to them. It is genuinely relaxing to be outside.

Once you embrace this time to relax outside, your cortisol levels will naturally begin to drop which will ease some of the burden on the adrenal glands as they won’t have to produce as heavily. In turn, this will lower your blood pressure, inflammation levels, and even improve your absorption in the gut. This will allow you to feel more refreshed and boost energy levels. A common complaint of those suffering from AFS is that they are continually exhausted and drained. Anything you can do to limit these types of issues should be welcomed with open arms as we all know how difficult it is to perform under oppressive circumstances.

What If I Can’t Get Outside?

It is understood that not everyone will be able to take much time to spend outside and you may not even have much access to the outdoors if you live in a large city or have a difficult schedule. Those who are in advanced stages of AFS may not be able to tolerate temperature changes or direct sunlight excessively. Their body decompensates when outside their familiar environment at home. That is why earlier we discussed the concept of bringing some plant life into your work and living space to combat what nature deficit disorder is affecting. There are two aspects through which plant introduction directly relate to AFS recovery.

What is nature deficit disorder? Does bringing plants to your home help?The first of these aspects revolves around the calming and rejuvenating effects of caring for plants. Many people find that tending to a garden or even house plants is a calming experience. Even if you are inside and only have a few plants to take care of, it can be a rewarding experience to cultivate life and see the fruits of your labor in action. This has an effect on AFS recovery because there is often a link between high stress levels and AFS so anything you do to help relax will help contribute to recovery with a complete mind-body approach.

Onto the second aspect of bringing plants into your environment and that is the power of visual stimulation mixed with effortless attention. Seeing natural patterns helps to break up the always structured images that we see in our homes and at work. Because plants are developed by nature, they are always a bit different and those visual inconsistencies help to turn off the directed attention portions of our brains, allowing for rest. This time to take a step back and change our focus will often help to reduce anxiety and restlessness. Agitation and anger are large causes of AF and need to be monitored and limited. To have a therapeutic environment to live and work in will allow for a more peaceful mental state and aid in limiting the NEM Stress Response. All of this, plus the great benefit of plants providing cleaner air for us to breathe – which is a wonderful bonus.

Conclusion

There are a variety of aspects that can be used to answer the question of what nature deficit disorder is, but there is a common thread that is important to note – we need nature. No matter how you incorporate it into your life, it is a good idea to get more of it if you can manage. Whether it’s through houseplants, walks outside, or even spending more time near a window with a view, you should take the time to become aware of how much exposure to nature you are getting.

Lack of natural contact might not be what you’re experiencing so you may need to dig a bit deeper to discover what is causing your AFS but it won’t hurt to look into it. Before you introduce any suggestions promoted in this article into your routine, take a close look at what is the best course of action for you. Allergies, seasons, and many other variables affect a person’s ability to engage in natural steps to AFS recovery so make sure what you’re doing is right for you.

Read Part 1

© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


what is nature deficit disorder