Powerful Reasons Why You Should Get Out and Enjoy Nature
In Oregon, we experience our share of inclement weather so we can get into the rut of staying indoors watching TV, playing video games or surfing the internet. As a result, many Oregonians are Vitamin D deficient, which greatly alters the mood, mental health and immune system. So when summer finally comes, I tell everyone, “Get out and enjoy nature as much as possible!”
Remember the last time you visited the ocean and felt the cooling spray and heard the crashing waves and sea gulls calling? Close your eyes and let that calm wash over you once again. Or if you love the mountains, remember the woodsy scent of the pine trees mingling with the dust on a warm summer afternoon as you hike up the trail past a burbling creek and chirping birds.
Can’t you feel your pulse slowing, your breath deepening and your muscles relaxing as you think about it? Don’t just think about it. It’s time to get out and enjoy nature and rejuvenate yourself!
Being in nature is very healing to us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Anger and stress ebb away, the blood pressure drops, muscles release their tension, the endocrine system slows down on the production of stress hormones. Finally, you have the space you need to think deeply and examine what changes you can make in your life to make it more fulfilling, to live more mindfully.
Another notable benefit from being in nature is that it offers pain relief. Our bodies were not designed to sit in front of the computer hours on end. That’s why so many suffer from neck and back pain. When you’re out in nature, you don’t want to sit still. There’s always something new and interesting to explore. We become engrossed in the world around us. And this means we’re distracted from our pain as we exercise more.
Do you find yourself having an ever-decreasing attention span? The fast paced world we live in is training our brains to scan, read in short spurts and jump from subject to subject as we multitask. Spending time in nature lets our overactive minds relax and relearn how to focus on one thing at a time. There’s even research that shows that spending time in nature increases the attention span of children with ADHD.
Spending time in nature with our friends and family helps us connect on a deeper level. And it’s not just because we’re more relaxed and there are less distractions from day-to-day living. Researchers have used fMRI to examine the brain’s response to nature scenes. When we’re in nature, the parts of our brains associated with empathy and love are activated. How cool is that?
This is such a powerful thing that a University of Illinois study concluded that people living in Chicago public housing were more friendly and had stronger connections with their neighbors when they had trees and green space around the buildings. Frances E (Ming) Kuo, Director of U of I Human-Environment Research Laboratory, has conducted rigorous studies on how nature nourishes our health, and she has written a very interesting 40 page report on her findings.
While bringing plants indoors is one minor solution, the best thing is to schedule time daily to get outdoors. Want to start living more mindfully with nature? Why not schedule a session of somatic coaching to calm your mind and reconnect with your body? Contact me and I’ll help you take this first step as you get out and enjoy nature more every day.