Why you might need a nature pill

  • Don’t despair at the news, try this instead 
  • A new pill that’s proven to reduce stress and will cost you nothing 
  • Plus – I share your great tips on swallowing massive capsules and pills!

As I scanned for health stories this week, I grew despairing at the news.

Perils of the job!

I have to get stuck into the media to keep abreast of things for this newsletter, whether I feel like it or not.

However, it wasn’t the health stories that caused my despair.

I think it was the terrible fires on the west coast of the USA did it for me.

All those images of burnt red skies, like something out of a dystopian sci-fi film!

Then I saw something about a “lost decade for nature” because the UK had failed on 17 out of 20 UN biodiversity targets.

Then there was the threat of another lockdown this winter…

It was grim reading all round.

No wonder then that the Guardian this week reported an explosion in anxiety in Britain over the past decade, caused by the 2008 financial crash, austerity, Brexit, climate change and social media.

And it doesn’t even include the effects of the pandemic!

So I did what I advise to ANYONE who feels stressed or sad in these troubling times…

I went for a walk, trying to focus on my surroundings and not on the nattering thoughts in my head.

As I skirted around the edge of town, where there are fields and copses, I let my heart rate rise and endorphins flood through me.

Then I came home, cooked some nice food, turned off my smartphone alerts, and went to bed early.

It didn’t solve all my woes entirely, but it helped.

I think we all need to do a bit of this during the autumn as the pandemic rumbles endlessly on, among all the other ups and downs of international politics.

There is some science behind it, too…

A pill that’s proven to reduce stress

Last year a study published in Frontiers in Psychology showed that there was measurable effect to spending just 20 minutes in natural surroundings.

Doing this one thing can significantly reduce stress hormone levels.

Dr. Mary Carol Hunter, author of the research said, “We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us.”

Her recommendation was that to lower your cortisol levels, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that “provides you with a sense of nature”.

The study even concluded that GPs should prescribe ‘nature-pills’ to stressed patients.

Now, I know that a lot of people reading this will not be living in the countryside – in fact, only about 20% of the population do!

However, it doesn’t have to be pure countryside…

It could be anywhere that you can see some shrubs and trees, clear sky with clouds, or a stretch of grass.

Playing fields… parks… canals and rivers… scrubby bits of hedgeland…

I’m sure most of us are within walking distance of something like that.

Even when you are confined to the house, there are ways you can give yourself a dose of feel-good chemicals.

Spend half an hour, focussing on the here and now – the little joys of daily life.

Those things for which you can be grateful.

Even if it’s just a good film or book, a chat with a friend on the phone, a cup of hot chocolate, or a warm bath.

In fact, what really did cheer me up this week was some time spent going through my Good Life Letter inbox.

There I found a load of feedback that I want to share today.

Wonderful emails about swallowing!

Recently, I wrote an email all about ways to make swallowing pills and capsules much easier.

After all, as we get older the number of pills we take tends to increase.

Not only medications but the many supplements we should take to top up missing nutrients or solve specific health problems.

They can really stack up!

Anyway, I wrote about swallowing pills for my letter the other week because I thought some people might find it useful.

Well, it turns out that a LOT of you have problems swallowing large capsules and pills.

So my little recommended tricks turned out to be useful!

If you missed that email you can read it online for free here: Tricks To Help You Swallow Pills

In response, readers also sent me their own methods of getting troublesome pills down more easily.

Your tips on swallowing massive capsules

One Good Lifer suggested that when swallowing with water you should use ‘warm liquid’ as “cold water makes the muscles contract”.

Another recommended that you eat something soft like a banana to aid the swallowing…

Or, according to one reader, a bit of yoghurt will help the medicine go down.

Finally, here is an unusual one from a reader named John…

“Since 2012 I have been on Clopidogrel and the early pills were like horse tablets which I just could not swallow.  I also suffered from time to time with constipation and one day I happened to have a small swig (3mg) of Lactulose Oral Solution while taking the pill and the pill just went down like a dream. Ever since I have taken all my pills with a sip of the Oral Solution. It comes with a small measuring cap which I fill ¼ full and sip from that.”

  • John

As John admits, the GP found this method quite perplexing!

Whatever works for you, I guess!

I always love to hear your tips and recommendations, so do keep sending them in, on any subject you like.