5 Kick Butt Benefits of Connecting to Nature


Hello Gorgeous!

A blooming body of research places evidence of the psychological, physiological, and emotional benefits of immersing ourselves in our natural world.

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. – Henry David Thoreau

As someone who is close friends with depression and anxiety, (dont be jealous)I can say that there is absolutely no greater natural mood booster than hanging out in nature! For me, it looks like long walks or hikes. Sometimes I take my book outside and just allow myself to be. I also love watching my cats enjoying the sun.

I have always found this fascinating, this “I can conquer the world feeling” after a walk. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods has said that of the almost 1000 studies on this topic “point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but its a have-to-have for physical and cognitive function.”

Nature in and of itself according to Positive Psychology generates a feeling of awe. When we are in awe (an emotion characterized by astonishment) we are existing in the present moment. Think back to the last time you thought WOW this is magnificent! Do you think you could be both marveled and anxious at the exact same time? No. This is also known as flow and is one of the happiest states we can ever be in. It means we are so focused on an activity that we are not thinking about the past nor stressing about the future. We are being exactly where the universe wants us to be. Here!

A research article on pnas.org, found nature to reduce rumination (the act of thinking and thinking and more thinking) which is highly linked to depression. In the same article, they share how experiencing nature also decreases the activation in the area of the brain responsible for mental illness.

Nature soothes our nervous system. The bird’s sweet songs, the ruffling of leaves, the warm sun or snow-capped mountains are all nature’s medicinal soal soothers. This has been proven by EEG tests. Our heart rate slows, our digestion functions optimally and our breathing slows down. We feel safer and it’s a break, especially for those living in cities, which is over 50% of the overall population. We all need to slow down and take a well-deserved break but those in urban areas have higher stress levels. When the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, it reduces cortisol levels that are heightened in the fight, flight, freeze, and fawn modes. In addition, our blood flow rises to the amygdala which manages our stress levels.


Nature Improves Human Relationships- When we are in a good mood we are automatically less aggressive and judgemental and more collaborative and compassionate. A positive frame of mind generates tranquility and for some even confidence. It makes me more confident for sure. Walking alongside your significant other releases endorphins that promote better sexual intimacy too. We are more apt to be vulnerable in conversation when we are walking side by side versus across from each other. This builds deeper bonds. All of these strengthen all of our relationships!

Nature Keeps us Healthy- Those who spent two hours a week in touch with mother nature (even spread out through various days) experienced a clear positive effect on their health. This study was led by Mathew White of the European Center for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter. It also lowers our blood pressure which intern improves heart disease. THIS IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR WOMEN IN THE US.

Our relationship with nature is vital. Get out there!

Look around you, be intentional about seeing your surroundings, and acknowledge tiny details. Maybe a ladybug is relaxing dog’s nose, or a ray of sun flickering on the surface of a pond? Listen attentively. Can you hear the thunder on your way down the trail? What does the shape of the cloud remind you of? Which of these flowers can you associate with playing as a kid? Last night my son and me noticed a wonderful smokey scent in the air that reminded us that we are in Autumn, our favorite season. Such a small gift from mother nature, yet it put a smile on both of our faces.

Here’s to making it a point to become one with nature way more often!

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Do You Need to Grow a Non-Judgmental Attitude?

Do you ever find yourself knee-deep in a shit show of regret after being overly judgmental with someone? Each day we subconsciously make small critical judgements that can have some very big effects on our overall happiness and our relationships with others. We scrutinize Instagram clothing choices or lack thereof-, the car they drive, how quickly they accomplish a job, their intellect and whether or not they’re worthy of dating.

Even though we genuinely want to respond graciously, personal opinions can quickly veer into the territory of exploding brain matter, boiling blood and hurling slurs. This could permanently damage a relationship. The ego is conditioned to fight with word daggers since it keeps us safe, but it also prevents us from connecting. It prevents us growing.

Below are some ways you could be blocking healthy communication.

  • Looking down on a friend for their choices in (fill in the blank)
  • Criticizing your partner for not perfectly placing the dishes in the dishwasher
  • Second guessing a close friendship due to political differences

These reactions all come from impulses (responding without thought of consequences) rather than responsiveness. Vince Gowmon author of Let the Fire Burn, has a brilliant way of looking at it: “Instead of trying to stop ourselves from thinking judgmental thoughts, an easier way is to look through the eyes of wisdom and compassion”.

It only takes a nano-second pause for awareness to be acknowledged

Leo Babauta in his simple 4-step method to avoid being judgmental, uses DUAL

(and no, that doesn’t mean hand your sparring partner a sword):

  • Don’t pass judgment. We can’t assume what’s best for anyone but ourselves (and maybe our children–and even that’s debatable, just ask a teenager)
  • Understand. What’s their backstory? We can never know what unseen trauma someone has endured.
  • Accept (try to). We’re all doing the best we can. Yes, even your self-centered little brother and or emotionally numb mother
  • Love them…and yourself. This is not a “love is blind” type of thing where you stuff it down with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Loving someone despite the differences changes lives. It diffuses turmoil and leads to a brighter existence without unnecessary frustration. We’re all here to evolve our way back to our true nature–Love.

Here are some common impulsive reactions we’ve all been guilty of, and some response substitutions that are much more helpful:

❌ You aren’t doing this right

✔️This is different from what I expected

❌ If only you would stop…

✔️ It seems as though __X__ might be getting in our way

❌ Why did you do that?

✔️ What motivated you to do that?

❌ You’re wrong

✔️ My experience has been…

✔️ I see this differently…

❌ You’re lying. I don’t believe that.

✔️ I’m confused about…

❌ That’s ridiculous

✔️ I hadn’t considered that. How will that work for both of us?

❌ You make me mad

❌ You’re making me feel…

✔️ I get upset when…

✔️ I feel…

It takes effort to build a communication bridge between two humans especially when we haven’t dug deep enough to find commonality. The antidote is curiosity about the other person and where they’re coming from.

I challenge you

👉🏻👉🏽👉🏿 Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to observe your thoughts and triggers today. Notice when you want to spontaneously punch someone (call them names, push them into traffic) you catch my drift. Then…you have a very small window between your desired reaction and your actual one. PAUSE and take two deep breaths. Only then give yourself permission to respond with compassion or tell them you need to excuse yourself and take a ten-minute break. Release the constriction in your body so you can return to the conversation with poise.

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Irene Abbou

Im very interested in your thoughts and any ideas on new topics 🙂

You can always reach me on Instagram


How to Prioritize to Reach your Soul on Fire Goals Fast Broadcast

Hello, My Gorgeous Ones!

If you’re anything like I used to be, you may start each morning half past dead, on your third cup of almond milk latte anxious as all get out to confront the boxes of your never-ending to-do list. Then you may take an extra 20 (mixed-up minutes) to determine what it is you need to tackle first to make it a productive day. The truth is, there really is an easier way. Setting aside 20 minutes each evening to determine our highest priority for the following day, would allow us more free time to do what we love while making real progress to set our goals on fire.

There are various schools of thought for prioritizing our time, but I’d like to share the one method that has made my life so much easier. Let me repeat …sooooooo much easier! Here it goes.

Think of all of the items on your to-do list as little pockets of excess fat stuck to your body. I apologize for the visual, but stay with me. Some of these pockets are fifty pounds of saturated fat, while others are just a measly two or three.Your goal is to identify the two most substantial pockets of fat (your most dreaded, difficult essential tasks) and get that done first thing in the morning before allowing yourself to begin on any other project.

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits and someone I have great respect for, often speaks of The Ivy Lee Method. This is a method formulated in the early 1900s by a successful American publicity expert named Ivy Lee. The story is that one of the richest men in this period, C. Schwab hired Lee to help him increase productivity in his steel corporation. When asked how much he was going to charge him, Lee responded, “nothing, unless it works. Just give me fifteen minutes with each of your executives. If after three months it works, you can pay me what you think it was worth.”

Ivy Lee’s suggestions to the executives for optimal peak productivity was the following:

1. At the end of each workday write down no more than six tasks you need to complete the next day, to achieve your objectives;

2. Rank these in order of importance;

3. Each morning, begin with the most important task and DO NOT MOVE ON TO THE NEXT UNTIL THIS ONE IS COMPLETE;

4. Work your way through the rest of the tasks from the most important to the least;

5. At the end of the day, move any unfinished tasks to a new list for the following day; and

6. Repeat this process daily.

The Ivy Lee Method worked so well that Mr. C. Schwab ended up writing Ivy Lee a check of $25,000 (the equivalent of over $400,000 today).

If You’re Not Sure of What Your Priorities Should Be:

(Answer the following questions and keep them as clear as possible.)

  • What are your soul on fire goals personal/business for 2020?
  • What are your values (these should align with your goals)?
  • What will your future self thank you for accomplishing?
  • What are your responsibilities?

Extra Hacks to Succeed:

  • Set an evening reminder, so you don’t forget to write your list;
  • Do Not Disturb: Put your phone in another room and turn off the pings and digs until your tasks are complete;
  • Set Time Blocks: Buy a kitchen timer and set it for an hour before beginning task one. When it rings, take a 10-minute break then repeat timer until you are done. This will provide your brain the break it needs to be diligent;
  • Print and track your accomplished tasks on a tracker to satisfy your minds desire for immediate rewards; and
  • A small reward at the end of the day if you shed the two most prominent fat pockets is a great way to stay motivated to repeat the following day

My wish for you this week is to utilize the Ivy Lee Method to get your most essential tasks done, so you reach the goals that make you excited to wake up in the morning. Please remember to always integrate self-care or brain breaks throughout the day, so you do not burn out or get sick.

Feel free to email me at irene@happinesswithinreach if you would like me to email you a free Habit Tracker Worksheet to more easily track your successes and feel like you are moving forward.

Irene is the creator of the Happiness Within Reach program, which coaches professional success-driven women to open their hearts to self-love while forming deep and vulnerable relationships with others. She is an ICF, ACC Certified life and business coach who holds certifications from the University of Pennsylvania on Positive Psychology and is trained in the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy. This integrates forty years of scientific research, based on the Sound Relationship House Theory. Irene has helped hundreds of women get reacquainted with their hearts most affirming desires. Her mission is to remind women of their indisputable worthiness and capability of creating the extraordinary soul on fire life that is their birthright.