Nature is a fantastic place to calm, soothe and revitalise the body and mind. Numerous ongoing studies attest to this, as does the personal experience of every nature lover and outdoorsy person on the planet! For me, there is nothing more powerful than nature. I love to read up about ways we can align ourselves with the planet and the benefits this has, so I was very intrigued when I heard about one of the scientific reasons for the healing power of nature: negative ionization.
Negative ions are atoms or molecules in the air that are charged with one extra electron. Electrons carry a negative charge and protons a positive charge: when an atom has more electrons than protons it has an overall negative charge, and vice versa. We all learned about ions in chemistry, but how many of us knew just how much of an extraordinarily positive impact negative ions can have on us, and how necessary they are to our wellbeing?
Unsurprisingly, negative ions are abundant in nature. There are tens of thousands of negative ions per cubic metre, and much more around natural bodies of water (particularly moving bodies of water like streams, waterfalls or the ocean). But, in our offices and our homes there are only a few hundred negative ions per cubic metre at most, and usually zero .
When we are sat in a room with artificial air circulation, little to no natural light, and are surrounded by electronic technology (which emit positive ions) we are deprived of negative ions. The air is stuffy, we get headaches, feel fatigued and our moods start to dip. Have you ever felt this and noticed that with a dose of fresh air you feel an immediate improvement? This is negative ions at work! These amazing little things are known to improve our mood levels and our mental focus, reduce depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and improve physical health.
Why do negative ions have such a positive impact on us?
When negative ions reach our blood stream, they increase levels of serotonin, boosting our energy and alleviating stress and depression . They also purify the air around us by removing airborne impurities (such as dirt particles) and sinking them down to the floor, thereby reducing the amount we inhale and the aggravating affect they have on our bodies . Negative ions also kill germs. Ironically, the environments where we could use them most – enclosed spaces full of people – are the most lacking in them. When we are subject to environments full of positive ions, and little to no negative ions, we start to suffer. Therefore, it is vital to make sure we are exposed to negative ions.
Here are some simple, easy and free ways to get more negative ions into your life:
- Allow the circulation of fresh air into your office or bedroom through an open window.
- Keep plants and fresh flowers in your home or office. These also oxygenate the air and, as a bonus, add colour and beauty!
- Light candles, particularly salt lamps.
- Turn off electronic equipment when it is not needed. If you are in an office environment surrounded by lots of technology, take frequent breaks.
- Spend time in nature and exercise outside wherever possible, whether this is during your lunch break, after work or at the weekend. Be mentally present, too! Notice the smells, the colours and the freshness. If you are lucky enough to be near a moving body of water, such as the ocean, make the most of it!
By the by, being out in nature also opens us up to the positive effects of vitamin D boosting sunlight, and mycobacterium vaccae in the soil which activates neurons in the brain that improve our mood and reduce anxiety .
Really, the science is just backing up what we already intuitively know. We are creatures of nature, adapted to the outdoors – not for artificial environments. There really is a lot of wisdom in the adage “Get some fresh air”.
I hope you have found this interesting and useful. So many people feel ‘out of whack’ and anxious these days – if this is you, maybe these tips will help you get back in balance.
Remember, I am no expert and I am only sharing what I have learnt. If you are interested, read more great info on negative ions from these sources:
 – Louise Deasey, bodyandsoul.com.au, ‘Negative ions are great for your health’
 – Denise Mann, webmd.com, ‘Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes’
 – Tracy Pedersen, spiritualityhealth.com, ‘Feeling Positive with Negative Ions’
 – Dr Chris Lowry, University of Bristol, ‘Getting dirty may lift your mood’
Cover photograph from Pinterest