Mother Nature Heals: Connect to the Natural World and Reap the Benefit
By Mikkie Mills
Are you feeling stressed out, under the weather or generally sick of life? When was the last time you visited a forest?
The natural world is something many city dwellers don't think about. You might assume that since you live in the city, you don’t need to worry about visiting nature. Maybe you’ve never been into outdoor activities, or it has never crossed your mind to explore a hiking trail. While it’s fine not to have a particular passion for nature, it’s still wise to recognize its power.
Nature is the Greatest Stress Reliever
It’s easy to become overwhelmed, depressed and disillusioned with life, especially if you spend a great deal of time working online. Even simple activities like driving the kids around or completing your daily commute to work can become a drain if you’re not properly caring for your well-being.
A Japanese study found that spending time in the woods can create a 16 percent drop in the stress hormone cortisol along with improving blood pressure and heart rate. If you don’t live near the woods, consider spending more time in the backyard or at a local park. It’s not a total escape, but it helps.
Nature Makes Us Happier
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests a connection with nature can be directly related to happiness and satisfaction with life. In one UK-based experiment, participants were asked about their perceived connections to the natural world and how they felt about them as well as their general health and happiness. They were then given the challenge of interacting with the natural world in some way for 30 days in a row. The interactions included activities like feeding birds or working in a garden.
After the 30 days were finished, the participants reported that their health had improved by 30 percent. Even more surprising, participants claimed that these improvements continued for months after the study was over. This implies that making regular efforts to interact with nature can be amazingly beneficial even if they don’t take place every day.
Nature Provides the Nutrition We Need
We can do so much good for our bodies by choosing a plant-based diet. We don’t have to eat perfectly all the time, but through being mindful of what we consume, we can begin to become aware of the processes within. That awareness will likely improve your relationship with food and increase your desire to only consume things that provide nutrition.
Always read food labels and look for ingredients that can either hurt or help you. Not all additives or thickeners are necessarily a negative. For example, carrageenan as a food ingredient can benefit the intestinal tract and promote the growth of healthy bacteria.
When in doubt, stick to nutritious plant-based foods like leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, nuts and seeds, organic eggs and meats, legumes and whole grains.
Nature Clarifies Our Thoughts
Connecting to the natural world can also create a sense of increased mental clarity. It has been discovered that office workers who view trees, parks or other natural elements from their desks experience better health and career satisfaction than workers who are trapped in stuffy cubicles. When we feel a connection to nature, it helps us both think with clarity and feel motivated to do our best.
If you’re interested in exploring your connection to nature, start small. You might not be lucky enough to live near beautiful forest trails, but you likely have a park somewhere nearby. Make it a priority to get outdoors and connect to the natural world. Walk barefoot in the grass. Sit in the shade of an old tree. Look at the spring flowers and make note of their beauty. All these things will pull you away from your stressful worries and bring you back to what’s important in life.