Nature is one of the best gifts given to us. One that we don’t fully maximize for our benefits – which doesn’t include depleting her resources for our selfish gain. There’s a lot to marvel at outside but that’s not always the case with us. Most of our cities are full of skyscrapers and busy people in a hurry to get somewhere.
Have you ever just stopped to notice how beautifully the birds sound, or how the wind and sun hit your skin just right, or how free you feel when your feet are on the ground, or how the seasons change with ease each making room for the next one?
Both nature and ourselves are part of a greater universe and I like to think of myself as an element – just like the animals, plants, and everything else around us. So, when I’m outside, I truly feel like I’m part of nature and she’s part of me. The art of mindfulness has taught me to pause and just marvel at how beautiful everything is and how wonderfully it’s all placed to serve a purpose. And because nature is a gift that keeps on giving, I can always depend on her to calm me down, lift my moods and make me a better human – by being intentional about taking care of her.
We could go into the science of how nature is good for our mental health but let’s stay practical. Make things as easy as you experience them with nature. The purpose of this article is to expand your awareness about the healing properties of nature but also welcome you into spending more time with her because she’s good for you. How? I’m glad you asked!
- Nature’s fresh air has very high levels of oxygen which means more oxygen going to your lungs and as a result, they dilate – improving cleansing and tissue repair. Gases pass easily when this happens. As you smell that clean air, your lungs are also cleansing themselves.
- Spending time in nature can make you more productive and focused. The increased oxygen circulates in your brain and gives you mental clarity, concentration, energy, and more happiness because your “feel-good” hormones are being released in the process.
- If you’re struggling with anxiety, being out in nature can help you calm down as it lowers your blood pressure and heart rate. Your lungs are receiving surplus oxygen and the other cells are not competing for oxygen to function therefore your heart rate slows down because it’s getting enough oxygen.
- Remember that your cells are getting the needed supply of oxygen they need so they work more efficiently and this improves digestion. If you’re struggling with bloating or indigestion issues or even if you want to lose weight, being outside is a great remedy for you.
- Practicing mindfulness (being intentional with your attention) in nature can greatly reduce chronic pain, lower blood pressure, treat heart conditions, and relieve stress. An example of mindfulness in nature is active listening to the elements in your environment like the birds, the flow of the river, the sound of wind….and taking it all in by distinguishing the uniqueness of each sound.
- The sunlight is a great source of vitamin D which helps with absorbing calcium into the body, building immunity, and protecting bone, muscles, and heart health. As little as 15 minutes is enough for you to get vitamin sunshine which has also been proven to reduce depression, anxiety, weight, and fight diseases. The sun is also a mood booster!
- Nature has a spiritual aspect to it and if we tune in, we will connect with her on deeper levels. Most spiritual retreats happen in nature because of its immense benefits to one’s mind and spirit. If you’re looking for a source of wonder and awe, just go outside and pay attention to the uniqueness of the elements. It cultivates a sense of gratitude and serenity as you watch how everything works as a function to a whole.
I understand that not every one of us has access to forests and nature trails. But if you do, please make an effort to go out there not only when you’re feeling depressed but all the time to boost your overall well-being. Go sit under the trees and journal, wake up to listen to the birds, go look at your reflection in the river, walk barefoot to feel the earth, time the sunrises and sunsets, allow your kids to play in the green spaces.
If you don’t have the privilege of these things, worry not. You can schedule hikes and walks to places out of town that have more elements. Also delight in your small park down the street. Buy houseplants and make your house a little greener and airier. Start a garden and plant flowers or vegetables. Make a bird sanctuary. Go to the zoo often. Whatever you choose to do, incorporate nature into it. Remember it’s the gift that keeps on giving peace, joy, energy, vitamins, and a whole lot of other benefits.