My love of nature started in childhood as my parents insisted their three children play outdoors as much as possible. While we weren’t allowed to run wild, (you never wanted to hear my Mom’s frenetic bell ring because you were somewhere you weren’t supposed to be), we were given the freedom to spend hours rolling around in the grass, climbing trees, dancing in the driveway, or playing a mean game of tug of war.
Perhaps it was because my parents just wanted us out of the house, or maybe they knew intuitively what scientific studies reinforce today: Nature is a powerful ally and healing force for our mind and body.
nature is good for us
We know that spending time in nature makes us feel good, but does it measurably affect our well-being? Study after study has shown the answer is yes.
Studies show that being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, stress, and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, but also contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
According to health researchers Stamatkis and Mitchell, nature not only improves the quality of our lives but the length of them as well. And a study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology in 2018 found that spending as little as five minutes outdoors was linked to a significant mood boost.
Research conducted in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.
nature is our happy place
Our affinity toward nature is genetic and deep-rooted in evolution. For example, have you ever wondered why most people prefer to book accommodations that have a great view from the balcony or the terrace? Why patients who get a natural view from their hospital bed recover sooner than others? Or why we crave downtime in nature when stress takes it’s toll on our zen.
Nature’s Impact on our Health
Who would have thought that a little time with the flowers and trees can actually improve your memory? The University of Michigan conducted a study that revealed students who regularly went for a nature walk actually had a better time retaining information.
- Nature improves short term memory.
Nature also helps us cope with pain. Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, nature can distract us from pain and discomfort.
- Nature reduces stress hormones.
In a world flooded by screens, sometimes just taking the time to unplug and go outside can do wonders for reducing stress. Nature has a calming effect on our brains, even if it means going outside for just five minutes each day. As an added bonus, outdoor exercise, like going for a walk, hiking, and so forth, gets the blood flowing and heart pumping, another way to lower stress levels.
- Nature increases our levels of Vitamin D.
Sure, too much sun can damage the skin and possibly lead to cancer. That being said, studies show that getting between 15 to 20 minutes a day of sunshine will allow your body to absorb vitamin D, which helps strengthen bones and reduce the risk of cancer, type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
- Nature improves our immune system.
Research has shown that going outdoors and getting enough sunlight can help boost the immune system. Make sure to take a little stroll outside or enjoy a bit of fun outdoors to help fight disease and stay healthy.
- Nature reduces inflammation.
Inflammation in the body can lead to all sorts of disorders, from depression and cancer to autoimmune diseases. A study demonstrated that participants who spent a bit of time each week walking in the woods experienced lower levels of inflammation in the body.
- Nature inspires creativity.
Nature comes in so many colors, from orange-sky sunsets to seafoam green waters and rose-colored gardens. Spending time outside gives a chance to get inspired by all the gorgeous sights, smells, and sounds of the outdoors. Science backs that up, too, showing that spending time outside actually helps get our creative juices flowing.
- Nature improves vision.
We spend a lot of time looking at screens, which can damage eyesight. Going outside gives our eyes a break from staring at a computer, television, or smartphone. Australian scientists even found that children who spend time outdoors reduce the risk of developing myopia later in life.
- Nature improves our sleep.
Spending time in natural light helps our bodies better regulate sleep patterns. When the sun goes down, our brains will release the right levels of melatonin to help get a good night’s sleep.
- Nature increases feelings of happiness.
You can find all kinds of different activities outdoors for all fitness levels and preferences. Whether it means going for a swim in the sea, taking the dog for a walk in the park, or mountain biking, finding outdoor activities that we enjoy will boost your mood and help you to feel happier. Plus spending time in nature promotes mental well-being.
- Nature can open the door to a deeper sense of spirituality.
A long walk in nature on your own gives a chance to clear the mind and can even count as a type of meditation. Spending time in nature helps us live in the moment as we breathe in the air, listen to the sound of the birds chirping, or feel the grass on our feet.
Nature can even teach valuable lessons and reveal metaphors to help us connect with our spirituality. The changes of the season reflect the peaks and valleys we go through in life. Meanwhile, a coursing river reminds us of our need to “go with the flow” and navigate the waters of life, so to speak.
Nature’s generous lessons are all around us when we slow down enough to take notice.
take a walk, skip the pill
A walk in the fresh air, the sun on our skin, bare feet in the sand: spending time outside can bring so many small pleasures, making us feel refreshed and revived. Whether it means sitting in your backyard garden sipping a cold iced tea or going for a thrilling white water rafting adventure, time in nature has the power to heal, inspire, and guide you daily.
Need some nature?
Join Tina Sprinkle and Lisa Looy for an amazing adventure on their WILD IN MONTANA Retreat. Daily meditation, guided hikes, horseback riding, and more. Space is limited so don’t delay! This retreat will sell out.