08 Aug A Little Nature Goes a Long Way
I am an urban dweller. In fact, I live in New York City. Needless to say, spending time in nature (real nature) can be a challenge!
But for the past few weeks, I have been in Oregon, (a regular summer occurrence) and have been hiking on nature trails and spending lots of time outdoors. I’ve been marveling at the amazing redwood trees, beautiful birds and finding peace just taking deep breaths. My ears are busy soaking up the sounds of the running creek nearby and my eyes are busy taking in the vivid colors or flowers, the very green grass and the startling blue sky.
And whenever I spend time in nature, this feeling comes over me. A welcome feeling of calm. Of letting go. Of being extremely present. Sometimes I find myself in a relaxed state and other times, I can feel creative juices flowing. But every time, I feel like this has to be good for me. So I got curious and started researching the health benefits of nature, and here is what I came up with:
Top 5 Health Benefits of Nature
- Stress Reduction: The sights, sounds and smells of nature are soothing. Spending recreational time in nature, whether that means hiking, strolling, swimming, camping etc., is proven to lower blood pressure, lower stress hormones and puts us in a relaxed state of mind.
- Improved Mood: Throughout history, people have sought refuge in nature. Studies show that spending as little 30 minutes in a nature lowers anxiety and depression.
- Heightened Awareness: Simple things like taking in sights, smells and sound increase sensory awareness which immediately brings us into a more mindful state.
- Increased Productivity: Whether it’s the rest that is obtained in nature, a physical work out or just the escape of it all, study after study shows that upon returning from nature outings, we are more productive. In fact, that even having a view of nature (and yes, screen savers and pictures help), we can tap into that sense of renewed energy, clear headedness and overall sense of well being.
- Life Affirming: Spending time in nature can reconnect us with our selves, our purpose and our relationship with plant and animal life. We are reminded at the complex sense of chaotic order that exists in nature and how perfect nature’s systems work when not tampered with. Writers, philosophers, artists and spiritual leaders have throughout history, turn to nature for inspiration, renewal and creativity.
But what if you don’t live near nature?
Well, here’s the good news. Most of us don’t. But that doesn’t mean we can’t carve out time spent in nature. In fact, here are a few ways, short of a planned vacation in nature, you can fold in more time outdoors.
- Garden. If you’re like me and have no garden, join a community garden. Get your hands on dirt and experience the miracle of seeing life grow before your very eyes.
- Spend Time in a Local Park. Go take a hike. Or a nap. Read a book. Have a picnic lunch. But do it around grass and trees.
- Make Time For Water Play. If you are on a coastal city, get yourself out to the beach. It doesn’t have to be to sunbathe. You can take a walk during the day, early morning or at dusk. If there’s a lake or river nearby or even a creek, that will do the trick.
- Create Green Spaces in Your Home. Enjoy filling your living space with plants and flowers. Grow some herbs. Get a flower box. You will bring beauty, life and oxygen into your home with very little effort.
Let me know how you find time to be in nature? What do you like to do and how do feel once after you get back from an outing? Leave a comment and let me know!
Until the next time,