The echo of a birdsong in the forest…the rhythmic flow of the waves, lapping against the shore… the feeling of natural earth beneath your feet. Not only is nature beautiful and soothing but it also has proven benefits for overall health and wellness. An article on PsychCentral sites multiple research articles, finding that nature improves depression, anxiety, creativity, problem-solving, working memory, mood disorders, heart health, and reduces stress. You do not have to go camping or hiking to get a good dose of nature. From walking to gardening, there are so many ways and so many reasons to add a little more nature into your everyday life.
Take A Walk
One of the easiest ways to reap the benefits of nature is to simply go for a walk. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that walking in nature for ninety minutes helped improve feelings of depression. The same results were not found in people who walked in urban environments. The Japanese refer to the prescription of walking in nature as shinrin yoku or forest bathing, which is basically a slow walk with heightened sense awareness or mindfulness. Studies have shown that forest bathing can even increase cellular processes that fight cancer. According to an article in Business Insider, walking in nature can also help reduce blood pressure, cortisol levels and stress, and improves memory.
Grounding is simply connecting the body to natural earth, skin to ground. An article published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health explains that the natural surface of the earth is covered with and constantly generates new free electrons which can be absorbed by the body, neutralizing free radicals that cause illness and inflammation. Walking barefoot on the earth, grass, sand, dirt, or other natural surfaces reduce anxiety and stress. The researchers point out that “in recent decades, chronic illness, immune disorders, and inflammatory diseases have increased dramatically,” which may be attributed to the lack of time spent physically connected to nature. One study even found that grounding decreased feelings of depression, pain, stress, and fatigue.
Gardening is a great form of exercise which can even improve bone health and self-esteem. One research review published in the journal of Royal College of Physicians: Clinical Medicine points out that 30 minutes of gardening can burn the same amount of calories as in a gym session and emphasizes raking and digging as good cardio exercises which also builds muscle. Gardening also increases sun exposure, which is crucial for Vitamin D production in the body, giving bones a boost. Another study published by the University of Arkansasfound that women over 50 who spent an hour gardening per week had stronger bone densities than women of similar age who did not. Gardening provides one with a sense of accomplishment, improving self-esteem and self-efficacy. If you live in a big city, there are ways to get involved in community garden projects; otherwise, dig in your own backyard!
You can reap the benefits of nature no matter where you live. Get outside and see the incredible healing benefits of nature for yourself!
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