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Nature for a positive mind: walk more and build resilience
How do you feel when you walk the streets down town, full with traffic, people rushing, noise everywhere, tall buildings blocking the sunlight?
How do you feel when you are hiking in the mountains, smelling alpine flowers, pine trees, being surrounded by trees, lakes, cows and perhaps a few deer or ibexes?
I am pretty certain that you feel a lot better in the mountains. Nature has a healing effect and makes you feel better. Sure, a short city trip may fill you with energy, but a longer holiday surrounded by nature, being it the beach and ocean or the mountains and forests recharges your batteries.
A large-scale experiment conducted on 120 people ascertained the ‘nature-connection’ in stress reduction and coping. Each participant observed visuals of either a natural landscape or an urban environment:
- The data obtained from this survey revealed that participants who looked at the picture of natural setting had low scores on stress scales and had better heartbeat and pulse counts.
- Furthermore, investigators also found that the stress recovery rate was much higher in participants who got a natural exposure than the ones who saw urbanized ambiances. The flow of this study strongly indicated the role nature plays in improving our general mental health conditions including stress
Nature improves your well-being
- Nature helps in emotional regulation and improves memory functions. A study on the cognitive benefits of nature found that people who took a nature walk did better on a memory test than people who walked down the urban streets.
- Nature walks benefit people suffering from depression. People suffering from mild to major depressive disorders show significant mood upliftments when exposed to nature. Not only that, they also feel more motivated and energized to recover and get back to normalcy.
- Recent investigations revealed that being outdoor reduces stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Besides that, it also makes us immune to allied problems like hypertension and tachycardia.
- Nature walks and other outdoor activities build attention and focus. There are pieces of evidence that indicate strong environmental connections to be related to better performance, heightened concentration, and reduced chances of developing Attention Deficit Disorder.
- A study at the University of Kansas found that spending more time outdoors and less time with our electronic devices can increase our problem-solving skills and improve creative abilities.
Just by being outdoors and using all our senses to appreciate nature, we can be more mindful of the present, gain emotional resilience, and combat stress with more vitality.
We become naturally immune to anxiety, emotional ups and downs, and thought blocks, thereby feel more lively and energetic than before.
Proximity to the nature improves mood, enhances respiratory functioning, regulates hormonal malfunctions, and impacts on the thought structure of individuals as a whole.
Feelings of happiness and well-being are positively correlated with natural activities such as gardening, animal feeding, bird watching, and bush walking.
People who live close to natural wilderness like the beach, mountains, or parklands, have better mental health and report of falling sick lesser than those living in congested urban settings.
The benefits of nature
A day out in the sunshine can suffice us with vitamin D, a nutrient we don’t get from food as much we need it. The right level of Vitamin D in the body immunes us against diseases like osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Besides, it also ensures the smooth functioning of the immune system. Studies have indicated that a large chunk of the population today is deficient of the ‘sunshine vitamin,’ which explains the massive increase in fatal diseases today, and rather than relying on human-made supplements, a close connection to nature can help in replenishing the deficit.
Computer Vision Syndrome (CSV) is a condition that arises from staring at the screen for prolonged hours. Naturally, such exposures take a toll on our eyesight and develop problems like dry eyes, myopia, or chronic headaches. Spending time outdoors, especially in the green is the best natural solution to this. Looking at the green grass, the trees, the flowers, and all the other aspects of the environment improve focus and eyesight.
The environment is a natural purifier. Spending some hours outdoors helps in releasing the toxins from our body and leave us all fresh and rejuvenated. The amount of bad air that we breathe in because of the pollution, industrial fumes, and indoor pollutants, is potent enough to dysregulate our respiratory tract, giving birth to breathing troubles, bronchitis, and asthma. And there is no other solution to this except for spending more time in the natural environment and getting some fresh air every day.
Mostly, the time we spend outside involves physical activity in some form. It may be walking, jogging, cycling, diving, surfing, playing, or anything alike. Any exercise in the outdoors helps in burning fat and improves the metabolism rate in the body. Research in this area has revealed that people who exercise outdoors enjoy their workout sessions more and are more likely to practice exercising regularly, than people who exercise indoors. Besides, outdoor activities are related to longer life span and fewer health problems.
Nature is undoubtedly the best healer. Spending time in nature awakens our senses and provides clarity. Many studies have proved that people who have a close connection to the landscapes are happier from the inside – they indulge themselves in positive thinking and have better coping mechanisms than others. A strong human-nature relationship means emotional balance, more focus, solution-oriented thinking, and an overall resilient approach to life.
We know walking is good for the heart, muscles, and the overall metabolism rate. And now scientists have proved that walking in the natural environment improves our emotional health too.
A study conducted and published by the Stanford University, California revealed that participants who walked in the green parklands showed increased attention and focus, more so than participants who walked in closed urban settings or on a treadmill.
Not only that, but the former group also showed less engagement in negative thinking and felt more confident about themselves than the other group.