The Benefits of Nature ExposurePublished on Friday, March 24, 2023 by
There is just something about the great outdoors.
Last Fall, I wrote about the concept of Primary Foods being that which feeds your soul. One of the best ways to improve mental health, physical health, and cognitive functions is to get outside.
No matter what wellness trends come and go, looking to nature will never go out of style because nature heals. This is more important now that most of us are city dwellers. Whether you are drawn to lakes, beaches, forests, or mountains, getting into nature will help promote wellness and relaxation.
How Nature Heals
Immersing yourself in nature heals by simply being among the trees, hearing the ebb and flow of water, breathing in the fresh air, and walking at an easy pace - all do wonders for our bodies and minds. In nature, we slow down and become present.
People have long visited healing springs and forests believed to have special energy, but you don’t need to travel long distances to reap the benefits. You can visit your own backyard. State parks, public lakes or beaches, nature trails, or even literally your own backyard can provide sanctuary and healing.
In nature, we release stress as we inhale calmness. We let go of the chaos and overthinking, to feel refreshed and soothed. Because nature is the purest path to inner peace, it works to lower cortisol and improve cognition. It has been shown that even watching nature videos or a short walk on a lunch break can reduce anxiety. Plants and trees also naturally emit essential oils (or phytoncides) into the air that can help promote increased immune function.
“Nature is a tonic for physical well-being.”
~ Dr. Franchell Richard-Hamilton, The Roots of Health
The benefits of spending time in nature are mental, emotional, and physical. I’d venture to say it enters the spiritual plane. Connecting with nature is not only good for us but it is good for the environment too because we are more inclined to care for the earth. We know that stress is the biggest contributor to all major health issues. Our nervous system is directly linked to our gut and brain. For optimal health, we need to care for our whole self, mind, and body.
Nature is a free way to calm our nervous system and there are many benefits, here are a few:
- Improved sleep
- Better focus and clarity
- Increased energy
- Improved mood
- More positive outlook
- Quicker healing from illness or surgery
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced stress and stress-related hormones
- Improved immune function
- Improved cognitive function, such as improved memory
Now that we are getting into spring, it’s a perfect time to explore nature. As a kid, I played outside all day, and I remember the joy and laughter. The best part is that you can gain the benefits of just 2 hours a week! Even viewing nature pictures and listening to nature sounds has an impact. No matter where you live, find your closest park, trail, lake, or beach and soak in the great outdoors!
I see you, and YOU are beautiful!
- Delagran, L. (2011). How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing? | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing
- Jimenez, M. P., DeVille, N. V., Elliott, E. G., Schiff, J. E., Wilt, G. E., Hart, J. E., & James, P. (2021). Associations between Nature Exposure and Health: A Review of the Evidence. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(9), 4790. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094790
- Li Q. (2010). Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 9–17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12199-008-0068-3
- Richard-Hamilton, MD, F. (2021, November 4). The Healing Power of Nature | Psychology Today. Www.psychologytoday.com. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-roots-health/202111/the-healing-power-nature
- Weir, K. (2020, April 1). Nurtured by nature. Monitor on Psychology, 51(3). https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature
Deanna Salles-FreemanLife & Health Coach