In the text below, you will find out why it is good to spend time in nature.
Perhaps there are still some out there who think that staying in nature is nothing more than enjoying the beautiful landscape, however, being in nature also improves our mental and physical health.
There are many reasons to spend more time in nature, we are going to focus on eight important ones and with that hopefully influence you to replace the couch with a walk in the nearby woods or another of nature’s landscapes, which are truly the greatest of man’s treasures.
What are these reasons then, which promise therapy for the mind, joy for the soul and strength for the body?
It is well known that the role of vitamin D in our life starts from the very beginning, and continues throughout life, until the very end. During the first year of life, pediatricians recommend taking drops of vitamin D, which will be used until the first birthday. However, vitamin D is naturally obtained from exposure to the Sun’s rays. Only exposure to the sun stimulates the production of vitamin D in our bodies, which means that being out in nature, particularly in sunny places, goes a long way.
Since laws of nature (which apply to Man as much as any other of nature’s creations) have their own order and harmony, the human body has evolved to the ability to endogenously synthesize this vitamin. In order for endogenous synthesis to be sufficient, smart and healthy sun exposure without huge protective factors is necessary.
Spending time in the sun reduces the risk of diabetes, autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, impaired immunity and according to research at the University of Edinburgh, the sun has proven to provide significant protection against heart and blood vessel diseases.
Many of the available synthetic sunscreens block the production of vitamin D, so we suggest that you use only naturally derived sunscreen.
The way of life in urban areas is positively correlated with greater stress. This can be demonstrated through looking at Noradrenaline and Adrenaline which are two hormones that the body releases during stressful situations. The levels of these two hormones are lower in people who spend time in the countryside than in people who live in urban areas, the American Journal of Human Biology reported.
On the one hand, stress or a response to a stressful situation are defence mechanisms hard wired in the human mind. In case a fire breaks out or we find ourselves in some life-threatening situation, we wouldn’t really want to be calm and relaxed. A fast heartbeat, an additional influx of oxygen and blood sugar levels, sharpened senses and quick reactions are stress reactions which are extremely handy, in times of need. Imagine you are late for an exam or a job, for example – stress helps you manage these situations.
On the other hand, the stress response is triggered every time our body assesses that we are endangered. In today’s world, as pertains to the “developed world” (for the lack of a better term), one very rarely faces life-threatening situations. That being said, the modern way of life is also full of challenges – albeit these are challenges of another kind, however they are still a stress trigger and cause our bodies to respond in similar ways as physical danger. Even though, as we noted this can be useful, it is not necessarily always a helpful reaction. You might even call it a “false alarm”, when a situation only appears to be dangerous, as perceived by those experiencing it. Getting a poor grade on an exam, or performing poorly at work one day can be extremely stressful, even though the danger is mostly in our mind. If this happens often however, and the state of stress lasts, then our health is directly endangered.
So, stress is inevitable and useful, but it can also be extremely dangerous. Various studies have shown that nature encourages and accelerates recovery from stress and contributes to the development of stress immunity that will help us in the next stressful situations.
Simply looking at Photos of nature can reduce the body’s reaction to stress. In a study, after showing a film with stressful situations, participants then looked at photos of nature scenery, while a second group saw photos in urban surroundings. The findings show that recovery from stress arising from the film was faster in people who watched photos of nature, according to research published in the “Journal of Environmental Psychology ”.
Just a decade later, the same journal published a study showing that after driving or solving demanding tasks, sitting in a room with a view of the forest encourages a faster drop in blood pressure than sitting in a room without a view of nature. Also, walking in nature encouraged greater stress reduction in respondents, rather than walking in an urban environment.
The modern way of life has placed most of us in front of a screen, which makes us all into victims of some or even all of the following symptoms: blurred vision, double vision, red and dry eyes, headaches and neck and back pain.
Research has shown that being in nature is the most important thing for the prevention of “Computer Vision” syndrome, which involves vision problems caused by prolonged screen activity. Additionally, the artificial light we are exposed to when looking at the screen of the device can cause myopia, for which visiting nature is therapeutic.
Nature has an amazing effect on mental health. Visiting nature reduced depression in as many as 71% of respondents, according to research conducted in Essex, conducted by the organization “Mind”, which deals with mental health.
They compared this type of ecotherapy with research on another group that stayed in a shopping mall, which showed that 41% of the respondents felt an improvement and 22% a worsening.
This organization has understandably focused on organizing projects that encourage people to engage in gardening and care for the natural environment, which is what led to the improvement in the condition of these people in as many as 71% of cases.
In modern urban areas, due to heavy traffic jams, intolerance of drivers has increased to the level of aggression, according to research published in the journal “Aggressive Behavior”.
Numerous studies have proven how calming and therapeutic nature is on the mind and body. These studies discuss the urban environment and the fast-paced lifestyle that brings with it disruption of our concentration, increased stress and aggression. On the other hand, being in nature can strengthen our mental abilities, our concentration, as well as reduce stress levels and aggressiveness
So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by the hectic pace of city life, when you feel uncomfortable or anxious, simply take a walk in the park. Or, you can even observe nature with the help of plain photography, to restore your focus and mental strength.
Our advice is to use your free time or vacation to visit nature, because this is really the only free and proven treatment for the big problems we encounter in everyday city life.
If you need quality sleep and if you want to help organize everything to rest during sleep at night, one of the conditions is to stay in nature.
Each person has their own internal clock, more precisely their own biological rhythm to which the body is accustomed. That internal biological clock is deeply connected with one’s natural surroundings. Take the sun for example, it determines just about every aspect of our lives. That same clock is also connected to the self, and is manifested in physical actions such as the step rhythm of a person’s walk or stroll and the way and when people eat. Of course, all of these factors strongly influence sleep. Logically therefore, if we spend too much time indoors, it inevitably leads to disruption of the biological clock, and thus to things such as sleep disorders, weight gain and other issues.
Luckily, exposure to the morning sun and to the cycles of your body and the world around you, restores sleep to normal cycles. Just a few hours spent in nature can help us return sleep, our weight and our feelings to a normal rhythm.
Viruses, fungi and bacteria can be a serious problem for our immune system, and it turns out that we are not alone, other plants and animals respond negatively to them as well.
The age of many trees around the world is estimated at hundreds and even thousands of years. Pando in Utah, USA is estimated at 80,000 years old which makes it one of the oldest organisms on the planet. Indeed there are many trees older than the historical record. During this time of existence, trees and plants have developed keen protections (in the form of secreted compounds) against fungi and bacteria. Thus, forest trees and plants emit into the environment “antimicrobial organic compounds of plant derivatives, called phytoncides, in order to exterminate fungi and bacteria”.
When scientists tested people before and after a two-hour walk in the woods, they found 50% more white blood cells (leukocytes) in all but one, whose primary role is to protect the body from microorganisms.
Researchers have found that frequenting the woods improves natural immunity, which is important for preventing cancer as well as other chronic diseases. However, scientists from Japan have discovered that the tradition called Shinrin-yoku or “swimming in the forest” which still holds strong, and that the reasons behind this are biochemical in nature.
Shinrin Yoku is part of the tradition of healthy lifestyle in Japan, and since 1981, has scientific evidence to back the practice. It has a positive impact on mental and physical health, and it has been internationalised and is now practiced in Korea, Finland, Ireland and other countries. This type of therapy is now part of the healthcare system of Japan, and belongs to the field of complementary medicine and aromatherapy. It is essentially preventive and auxiliary therapeutic methods of exposure to aromatic molecules of forest trees that have numerous positive effects on human health and quality of life.
We all enjoy the beauty of nature, and now that we know how much visiting the woods can mean for our health, we have even more reason to spend our free time there. People have opted for a life in or around forests for the entire existence of man, for precisely these benefits. Unfortunately earth’s forests have seen a dramatic and ever more increasing decline in forest reserve due to increased demand for arable land. In addition to asking you to enjoy the forest for your own health, we kindly ask you also to consider the health of the forest in day to day decisions, as often as you can. Purchase recycled materials, don’t support companies that are active in deforestation, and try to spread the message about our forests dire need for our help.
The latest research has shown how being in nature renews our energy and brings us to a state of happiness and inner peace. Grounding, in the literal sense, consists of our bare feet connecting with the ground, which has an impact on our whole body and frees it from negative energy.
Dr. Gary Schwartz, a professor of psychology and medicine at the University of Arizona, stressed that “grounding” is as important as sunlight, air, water, and nutrients.
When walking in nature, it’s not always possible to be barefoot, due to trails being rough and covered at times. However, whenever the chance presents itself, one should remember to really connect with the earth, take your shoes off and enjoy. The energies which flow from the earth and through all of us, connect much better if there is not a layer of non-conductive rubber or plastic between us and the ground.
Like all other living beings on the planet, we humans are part of a complex and interwoven set of galactical events, and permeating it all is the energy which essentially enables life and existence. The ground below us, therefore, is more than something we just stand on and move on, it is a direct link to all existence.
Nature has been shown to improve our ability to focus attention, essentially by focusing on certain stimuli to which we are exposed, out there in the open. In addition to helping maintain attention, being in nature can also improve our concentration.
In one study published in 2005 in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, a set of experiments measuring the success of participants at an attention test, that scores improved after the subjects observed photographs of nature, regardless of the weather conditions.
Also, just three years after that, research published in the journal Psychological Science showed that a 50 to 55 minute nature walk improved performance on a task that required recalling a sequence of numbers.
Other studies that have dealt with this type of research on the influence of nature on concentration have concluded that observing nature can improve mental focus.
So, grab your walking boots and get out there!