Whether you realize it or not, going outdoors can play a bigger role in your overall health and wellbeing than you might imagine. What we see, hear, experience in our environment not only affects our mood, but also how our body functions. Current research shows that spending time in nature can be beneficial to our nervous, endocrine and immune systems.
Exposure to nature, even if it is just sitting next to a window, can contribute to your overall physical wellbeing by reducing blood pressure, heart rate and the production of stress hormones. Add brisk walking or other exercise to the equation and the physiological benefits grow significantly.
It makes sense that being outdoors on a nice day enhances wellbeing. But guess what? It doesn’t haven’t to be sunny. It doesn’t have to be warm. And it doesn’t have to include a beach or mountain range (although who would complain if it did?). The benefits of being exposed to nature occur regardless of the climate or setting. That saying about happiness in your own backyard? Its true and thank you, Dorothy Gale.
Current research shows that time spent in nature helps us feel connected to the larger world. You might say it is the ideal antidote to the time we all spend in front of the various screens in our life. Being outdoors helps us develop a stronger sense of connectivity, becoming more aware of our surroundings and our place in the universe. And we can better appreciate those with whom we share the planet. Social scientists who’ve looked at this say, appreciating nature can encourage people to forego self interest to improve the welfare of others. Also, the experience of seeing or experiencing something beautiful in nature leads us to want to share that experience with others, thus further boosting that sense of community or connectivity.
So as you think about your 2020 wellness journey, consider carving out more time exposed to nature. Take walks outside. Read by a window. Bring plants into your home or office. And if you MUST be in front of a screen, at least incorporate some beautiful images of nature into your viewing cue.
Nature heals. Nature soothes. Nature connects.