If you can’t decide what you want to do.
If you can’t stand what people say to you.
If you can’t see when your eyes are open wide.
If you ask yourself what you are doing and there’s no reply.
Anyone who has ever stepped outside to “get some air” has experienced the calming effects of nature. Whether it’s spending the whole day immersed in a verdant paradise or ten minutes of deep breathing in an urban green space before walking back into your office, the mere act of being near nature has a positive effect on your mental and physical well-being. Here are three more reasons to step outside!
Green Peace In Japan
They call it “Shinrin-yoku” or “Forest bathing”, but you and I probably call it “going for a walk where there are some trees”. In a fast-paced and stressful society, forest environments are found to dramatically reduce the experience of chronic stress. The scientific research that confirms this is so strong that the Japanese government advocates getting outside in the trees.
They even employ several “Forest Therapists” to guide citizens in finding their zen in nature. You don’t need to break a sweat to need this kind of bath. Studies show that the mere fact of being in an environment where there are trees and greenery is sufficient and exercise is optional. Additionally, the stress-reducing benefits can be found in an urban park as easily as in a remote forest. Anywhere there’s green, you can get relief.
Get “Out” for a Better “In”
Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it has huge benefits for physical health. Vitamin D from sun exposure helps with calcium absorption and can improve blood flow and lowers blood pressure. Stress hormones decrease, lowering heart rate, improving digestion, inflammation and even fertility. If you do choose to get in some exercise while you’re outside, the physical benefits multiply simply because you’re encouraged to do a bit more. Outdoor exercise, in particular, has been shown to be more engaging and feel less physically taxing. The result is that you’re more apt to exercise and more likely to push yourself a bit more when you’re out there.
Connect by Disconnecting
When we spend time in nature, we have the tendency to leave our devices in our pockets. This fact alone might be enough to improve our health. A University of California, Irvine study found that people who had access to email and therefore received a steady stream of messages throughout the day had higher heart rates than those who were cut off from electronic communication. Of course, you might want to put the phone on airplane mode so you can still get those great pics! Additionally, the mere presence of nature, even in otherwise urban settings, provides us with a setting that is conducive to human connection.
A study at the University of Illinois showed that residents in a public housing community who had trees and green space around their building ended up knowing more people, having stronger feelings of unity with neighbors, and being more concerned with helping each other. There is no doubt that getting into nature can get you out of a host of health predicaments. Try to get outside at least ten minutes a day to start noticing the effects. You’ll be feeling great in the great outdoors!
Coley, R., Sullivan, W., & Kuo, F. (1997). Where Does Community Grow?. Environment And Behavior, 29(4), 468-494.doi: 10.1177/001391659702900402 Gladwell, V., Brown, D., Wood, C., Sandercock, G., & Barton, J. (2013).
The great outdoors: how a green exercise environment can benefit all. Extreme Physiology & Medicine, 2(1), 3.doi: 10.1186/2046-7648-2-3 Morita, E., Fukuda, S., Nagano, J., Hamajima, N., Yamamoto, H., & Iwai, Y. et al. (2007).
Psychological effects of forest environments on healthy adults: Shinrin-yoku (forest-air bathing, walking) as a possible method of stress reduction. Public Health, 121(1), 54-63.doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2006.05.024
How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing? | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/environment/nature-and-us/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing