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Spending time outdoors, whether it’s for a short walk around a nearby park or a long leisurely ramble in the forest, can feel incredibly refreshing. We’ve all experienced this but we don’t really dwell on the benefits of connecting with nature.
Let’s be honest, the only time most of us give nature any thought is when the weather prevents us from going out and interferes with our to-do list. Do you even remember the last time you stopped to really connect with nature around you?
When was the last time you stopped to listen to a bird warbling or to take in the colorful flowers in your path? Or to watch a spider spinning its delicate web?
Have you ever taken a closer look at the shades of green and the vein patterns on different leaves? The sheer diversity will astonish you.
Connecting with nature through these little acts is easy and won’t take more than a few minutes, but the benefits you’ll enjoy are tremendous. The health benefits of connecting with nature have actually been scientifically proven.
Here’s a look at the many benefits of being in nature and tips for how to connect with nature.
9 Proven Benefits Of Being In Nature
There is something special about being in nature that can have a positive impact on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Whether it’s taking a walk in the woods, swimming in a lake, or simply sitting in a park, spending time in nature can provide a variety of benefits.
1. Reduces Stress And Anxiety
Nature has a calming effect on our nervous system and can help us feel more relaxed and less anxious. This is because being surrounded by the beauty of nature reduces levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress and anxiety.
More often than not, we don’t even realize the stress we are under. We just operate on auto and plow through the day without giving a thought to our simmering emotions. Going on like that nonstop can eventually impact our mental and physical health.
Stepping outdoors and connecting with nature, even for a few minutes, has a measurable effect on your stress levels. You can feel the stress and tension melting away. It’s like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, and you feel freer and lighter.
2. Boosts Mood
Being in nature can improve our mood and increase feelings of happiness and well-being. Research has shown that even short periods of time in nature can have a positive impact on our mental health.
This is because spending time outdoors increases exposure to sunlight. Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, which plays a key role in regulating mood. Read more about Health Benefits of Sunlight Exposure
3. Strengthens Immunity
Several studies have shown that exposure to natural environments can help boost our immune system, making us more resistant to illness and disease. This is due in part to the beneficial microbes found in soil and plants, which can help boost immunity and improve overall health.
Some studies have found that even being able to see a natural landscape helped hospital patients recover faster.
4. Sparks Creativity
Spending more time in nature has been linked to increased creativity, as well as improved problem-solving skills and cognitive function. Studies have shown that simply viewing nature can stimulate the brain and improve creative thinking and overall creativity.
Think about it, it’s really hard to be creative when you’re indoors looking at the same things every day. Stepping outdoors and taking in the beauty and wonder around you can get your creative juices flowing.
5. Improves Sleep Quality
Connecting with nature improves sleep in a number of different ways.
Adequate exposure to natural light and fresh air helps regulate sleep patterns and improve the quality of our sleep.
The lower stress levels and better mood that are associated with nature, are also conducive to better sleep.
Last but not least, the physical activity involved improves sleep quality by inducing deeper and more restful sleep phases.
6. Leaves You Feeling Re-energized
Have you noticed how energized and refreshed you feel when you’re near the ocean, a river or a waterfall? That’s because the air near moving water is full of negative ions that can act as natural anti-depressants. It’s the same effect as the change in the air after a thunderstorm when the air is no longer oppressive but clear and fresh.
7. Improves Mental Health
Our understanding of how being in nature improved mental health only scratches the surface. The American Psychological Association has an interesting article ‘Nurtured by Nature‘, which does a deep dive into the benefits of being in nature.
8. Improves Physical Health
You’re out of your chair and walking around outdoors – that’s the first step towards better physical health.
Being in nature often involves physical activity, whether you’re spending time hiking, swimming, or simply walking around. This can help improve our overall fitness and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease.
Sure, you could improve your health by walking on a treadmill indoors. But why do that when you can walk outdoors and get all the benefits of being in nature? There’s just no comparison!
9. Changes Your Perceptions Of The World
People who exercise outdoors move faster, have a lowered perception of effort, enjoy exercise more, and are more likely to stick to their routine than people exercising in a gym.
There’s no denying that being in nature provides a sense of respite from the stresses of daily life and can help us feel more relaxed, refreshed, and connected to the world around us, all of which can contribute to a more positive mood.
This lovely being in nature quote encapsulates the benefits beautifully:
Nature isn’t a miracle cure for diseases. But by interacting with it, spending time in it, experiencing it, and appreciating it we can reap the benefits of feeling happier and healthier as a result. — Lucy McRobert, Nature Matters Campaigns Manager for The Wildlife Trusts
20 Easy Ways To Connect with Nature
Finding opportunities to reconnect with nature and take advantage of its healing benefits can be a challenge in our hectic lifestyles. But you don’t have to go camping in the middle of nowhere to enjoy nature.
Here are some easy ways that you can get the benefits of reconnecting with nature that won’t take a lot of your time.
1. Go for a leisurely walk in a park – It’s easy, won’t take up too much of your time, and is doable no matter what your fitness level. Start with a few steps and increase it gradually.
2. Kick things up a notch with forest bathing – Based on the Japanese concept of ‘Shinrin-Yoku’, forest bathing involves moving slowly and mindfully through a forest or other natural area. The aim of this Asian practice is for you to engage all your five senses along the way. Be intentional during your walk in the wild. Look around you and observe everything about you more keenly.
3. Practice barefoot earthing – Also known as barefoot grounding, this involves connecting with natural earth without wearing any footwear. This takes your connection with nature to the next level. Read about the powerful benefits of barefoot earthing.
4. Spend time gardening, whether in your backyard or a community garden – Gardening allows you to connect with nature more intimately by planting and nurturing living things. It can be an immensely rewarding activity.
5. Take your yoga or meditation practice outdoors – Meditating or doing yoga in a park or on the beach can help you feel grounded and present in the moment. It also offers additional benefits such as Vitamin D from sunlight exposure.
6. Go on a birdwatching expedition – Engaging in birdwatching can be both fascinating and liberating. As you watch different bird species, you’ll develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the natural world.
7. Swim, kayak, or paddleboard in a natural body of water – Participating in water activities is a great way to connect with nature and experience a sense of calm and freedom.
8. Practice mindful breathing or other mindfulness exercises while immersed in a natural setting – Doing this helps you feel more connected to the world around you and promote a sense of inner peace. Find a peaceful spot outside, shut your eyes, and take deep, soft breaths while feeling the sunlight on your face and the breeze on your body.
9. Visit a botanical garden or arboretum – Visiting a botanical garden or arboretum can provide an immersive experience as you examine each plant closely. Notice the distinctive characteristics of each plant and see what sets it apart from the other plans.
10. Eat a meal or plan a picnic outdoors – Eating outdoors, whether on a picnic or a patio, allows you to enjoy the sensory delights of nature while spending time with friends or family.
11. Participate in volunteer activities to help preserve natural areas – Volunteering with conservation and restoration projects is a rewarding way to give back to nature while learning about the natural world and making new connections.
12. Go stargazing on a clear night and marvel at the beauty of the universe – Stargazing provides an opportunity to contemplate the vastness and beauty of the universe, while simultaneously connecting with nature and our place in it.
13. Attend outdoor festivals and other events in natural settings – Participating in events that are held amidst natural settings can provide an opportunity to connect with nature in a more social environment.
14. Take your exercise routine outdoors – Get out of the gym and take your exercise routine outdoors. Not only will this provide a change of scenery, but you’ll also get the benefits of being in nature.
15. Incorporate houseplants or create a natural decor theme in your living space – Bringing elements of nature into your home environment can have a calming effect, and can remind you of the beauty and tranquility of the outdoors.
16. Spend time at a nature retreat – A nature retreat allows you to fully immerse yourself in nature, often far from the distractions of daily life.
17. Go camping – Camping is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and bond with nature for an extended period. Even after a short weekend camping trip amidst nature, you’re sure to come away feeling refreshed, re-energized, and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
18. Lie on the grass and gaze at the sky – Connecting with nature doesn’t necessarily have to involve a lot of planning or even driving to a remote campsite. If camping is not your thing, you can still connect with nature by simply lying down on the grass outdoors and observing everything around you.
19. Hug a tree – If you’ve never hugged a tree before, you absolutely should! At least once. There’s something extraordinary about wrapping your arms and pressing your cheeks around a sturdy, gnarled tree trunk. You can just feel the stress draining out of your body and being replaced by renewed energy from the tree. Try it!
20. Keep a nature journal – Time has a way of erasing certain memories. Writing your nature experiences down will keep those special memories alive for years to come. As you leaf through the pages at a later date, you’ll be able to recall your thoughts and feelings during your various outdoor activities.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your physician before using essential oils. See Full Disclaimer here.