Updated: Sep 9, 2019
I love nature. I love the outdoors. Nature seems to have a confounding effect on my health. Every time I spend time outside, I feel soothed, calm, more collected and rejuvenated.
Whenever I have time, I often take a walk in the park and take pictures of trees and flowers with my camera — what a perfect way to spend an afternoon in nature.
I love being in nature and summer is the perfect time for me to enjoy the outdoors. I also love having a picnic or going on a hike. We only get three months of summer, so let's embrace them to the fullest!
Did you know that the average American spends approximately 87% of their life indoors, then another 6% of their life in automobiles, which leaves only 7% of their life spent outdoors! That statistic shocked me. As a nature lover, I spend at least 30 minutes to an hour every day, either walking or running outdoors. It's just something that using a treadmill can never replace.
“The average American spends approximately 87% of their life indoors, then another 6% of their life in automobiles, which leaves only 7% of their life spent outdoors!”
So it gets me curious. Why being in nature is so good for us? Why don't we spend more time in nature? What are the effects that nature has on our physical, mental and spiritual health?
Here’s what I found:
Impact of nature on our physical health
Frequently being in nature helps reduce muscle tension, heart rate, blood pressure, and the production of stress hormones. According to various research, it may even reduce pain, inflammation and mortality; as well as lead to improved memory, better sleep, and protected vision.
Furthermore, time in nature increases our ability to pay attention and learning capabilities. Because humans find nature inherently interesting, we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing out in nature. The natural world prompts what researchers call "attention restoration" - a break for our overactive mind, which can enhance creativity and problem-solving skills and refresh us for new tasks.
Impact of nature on our mental health
"Nature deprivation," a lack of time in the natural world, primarily due to hours spent in front of TVs or computer screens, has been associated with depression, loss of empathy and lack of altruism.
Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature helps reduce fear, anger, anxiety and stress. It also enhances calm and stimulates positive thoughts and feelings, which lead to better mood and mental health.
Impact of nature on our spiritual health
Have you ever felt in awe by the beauty of nature? I have, many, many times. In fact, a research study determined that nature is the primary catalysts of wonder. This state of respect helps to magnify our place in the world, so we live more altruistically instead of materialistically. This shift in perspective often encourages more compassion with self and others. When we care for something greater than ourselves, we're more likely to give back to others and our community, fostering a kinder world.
Remember, even just a few minutes each day, regardless of the weather, allows you to breathe in the fresh air, rest your eyes from computer screens, and clear your mind.
We have only just begun to understand the healing power of nature and time spent outdoors. Even without hard science, I think many people can relate to its ability to help calm and soothe just on an experiential level. So next time you are feeling stressed, under the weather, uninspired or worn out, remember that going outside for even a quick walk can cure all that ails you.