Nature has amazing positive effects on both physical and mental health!
lthough many of us spend most of our time indoors, we actually belong in nature.
Have you ever noticed how much better you feel as soon as you step onto a beach, walk through a forest or sit near a waterfall?
There is an indisputable link between human beings and all other living systems, which explains why we have an innate love for the natural world.
It’s well known in the medical community that spending time in nature has amazing positive effects on physical and mental health. So, the question remains… Why are we spending so much time suffering indoors, when we can take charge of our own wellness by absorbing the healing vibrations of the oceans, rainforests, and our beautiful animal friends?
To empower and motivate you to get outside, here are 10 reasons to spend more time in nature.
Increases vitality and resilience
When you have vitality, you are full of life, and enjoy high levels of physical, mental and emotional energy.
Resilience is the strength to maintain your vitality through life’s many challenges.
As spending time in nature increases our vitality and resilience, it is essential to our wellbeing, and it restores our capacity to continue living with purpose and strength.
When we leave the concrete jungle and re-enter the natural world we came from, we leave behind the stress and negative thoughts, which thrive in an unnatural environment.
The pressures of work deadlines, social expectations and money, all begin to subside and lose significance when we step out of the artificial world we have constructed.
Nature can recalibrate our perspective and bring our awareness back to the things that really matter in life. The power of the natural world to relieve stress, anxiety and depression, is a well-known and accepted therapeutic modality in the mental health community, and is known as Eco-Therapy.
Without the excess mental noise caused by stress, we can rediscover our amazing capacity for imagination and creativity.
Spending time amongst the trees and flowing streams, allows the mind to wander freely, dive to the depths of our memories and emotions, and fulfil the universal human desire to create.
Whether you create art, music, or use your imagination to creatively solve problems in your job, the beauty of the natural world can reignite your creative fire.
We can improve our mental health and live happier lives if we aim to get a daily dose of nature
Lowered risk of anxiety and depression
A lack of time spent in the natural world, known as ‘Nature Deprivation,’ has been associated with anxiety and depression.
This is no surprise - any living being taken from its natural environment is likely to display the symptoms of a lack of wellbeing. Just think of pacing, agitated circus lions in cages or concrete enclosures.
Although it may not be practical to abandon society completely and live in the jungle, we can improve our mental health and live happier lives if we aim to get a daily dose of nature - even if it’s simply a walk through a park.
When the mind and body are under stress, we’re in ‘fight or flight’ mode, which shuts down the body’s systems that aren’t essential for immediate survival - and this includes our immune system.
Time in nature relieves us from stress and switches the body from ‘flight or fight’ mode, into ‘rest and digest’ mode - which allows the body to invests energy into the immune system.
Breathing in fresh air also allows the body to absorb phytoncides, which have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, while exposure to sunlight allows our bodies to absorb the energy of the sun and convert it into vitamin D.
Stress uses up so much more energy than we even realise. We can turn to caffeine or try to get more sleep - but the reality is, if we don’t reduce our stress, we can never truly regain our energy.
Next time your energy plummets, consider taking a walk through a park or sitting by a river; you might find it perks you up enough to avoid another coffee.
Improves memory and cognitive function
Artificial indoor environments don’t stimulate our brains, in the same way, being outdoors does.
Nature is filled with inherently interesting stimuli, and as we take in the wonder of our beautiful surroundings, our minds become more present.
However, this isn’t practiced presence, like in meditation - it’s involuntary attention. We can’t help but look at a beautiful flower or a stunning sunset - so it’s a kind of presence that doesn’t require any extra effort, which gives our prefrontal cortex a much-needed break.
This refreshes and restores our ability to exercise directed attention and working memory. Yes - spending more time surrounded by nature can make you smarter.
Experiencing the changing forces of nature reminds us of how fragile and fleeting life can be. We remember that we have so much in common with the natural world, and we sense a connection to every tree, animal and grain of sand.
This recognition is a spiritual experience of pure consciousness, which momentarily frees us from social constructs and other unnatural influences.
In that moment, we are our true selves. The more often we can experience these kinds of moments, the closer we can get to living our most authentic lives.
When we live with authenticity, our sense of purpose grows and we experience more motivation, joy and satisfaction. We are, at the same time, a tiny speck in a vast universe, and the entire universe in a tiny speck.
Increases likelihood of exercise
In general, people who spend time outdoors have higher levels of physical fitness than those who don’t.
The explanation for this is simple - spending time outside increases the likelihood that you’ll do some form of physical activity, whether it’s walking in a forest, swimming in a stream, or even climbing a tree.
You may be familiar with the sudden rush of motivation when you arrive at the park for the run you had been dreading earlier.
So, the more time you spend in nature, the more likely you are to make environmentally sustainable lifestyle choices
Motivates us to ‘be the change’
The more you see of our planet’s beauty, the more you’ll want to protect it.
So, the more time you spend in nature, the more likely you are to make environmentally sustainable lifestyle choices, such as recycling, avoiding the use of plastic, buying eco-friendly products, and boycotting destructive industries.
The future of ours, really is in our hands, and each choice an individual makes has a ripple effect throughout the planet - so let’s get outdoors more and make a positive impact!
Although happiness is created on the inside, we can help it along by spending time in the beauty of nature. Whether you prefer the beach, a forest, or your own garden, getting outside is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve our health and wellbeing.
So… what are you waiting for?