The Importance of Getting Outside
Updated: Mar 18, 2022
Getting outside is very important to our health and overall wellbeing! Recently, there has been a new program implemented that allows Canadian doctors to prescribe national park visits to their clients. Here are some of the ways that nature can help us:
Grounding & Reconnecting
Going for a walk outside, a swim in the ocean, or camping in the wilderness allows us to connect with the real world for a moment. Try to turn your phone off and allow yourself to really disconnect from any problems or stressors, even for a short while. We do not realize the negative effects of always being connected to our devices can have. Whether you decide to sit in a park for an hour or go on a full weekend camping trip, let this be a time to ground yourself and reconnect with that positive energy.
Studies show that spending time in nature reduces blood pressure and stress-related hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Immersion into nature has been heavily researched and studies show that humans should try to spend at least 120 minutes in nature per day for maximum benefits. It even helps just looking at indoor plants, looking outside a window, or even a nature-based art installation.
Many times, when people have developed anxiety and mental health issues, there can be links to the lifestyle they live. Of course, some cases are more serious chronic psychological issues but for people that suffer from small bouts of lowered mood levels, the solution can be found in nature. The studies point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive function (Robbins, 2020).
Nature also improves our focus. Have you ever felt very scrambled with your thoughts but after coming back from a walk, run, or hike you felt much clearer-minded, full of ideas, and motivation? Nature provides us with a break from the things that mentally drain us, and a sense of peace which allows our mind to calm and regain focus. Nature is also a great source of creativity and inspiration. So, if you feel mentally blocked or drained, get outside to refresh your perspective!
A mini nature mindfulness adventure
Head to some nature nearby, it could be surrounded by your indoor plants, out in your backyard, a local park, or go further afield to a forest.
Turn your phone off and put it somewhere that you can’t touch it. Don’t give in to temptation, Instagram and work emails can wait.
Close your eyes and smell. What can you smell? What other weaker smells do you notice behind the strongest smell? Put aside the worst smell and find the best smell.
Now open your eyes and look at the tiniest little veins on the closest leaves of some plants. Imagine their little plant mouths breathing in carbon dioxide and toxins and breathing out oxygen. Now shift your vision to the furthest thing you can see on the horizon and find something natural - clouds, birds in the sky, distant mountains. Shifting our vision is good eye yoga and should be done frequently for people who work on screens.
Touch nature, pick the dead leaves off your indoor plants or give them a bit of water or natural fertilizer, touch the bark of the closest tree, put your hands on the soil, touch the soft moss, see if you can find some smooth stones or wood to touch. If you are brave enough, take off your shoes. We also host terrarium workshops to help guide you through this process.
Finally, close your eyes and breathe deeply for 4 breaths, hold for 8 breaths, then breathe out. Repeat 3 times. And we guarantee your mood and focus will be improved.
Robbins, J (2020). Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health.
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