A recent study found that most Americans are not spending time in nature. “Most adults recognized that exposure to nature provides them with a variety of benefits to their physical health, psychological well-being, and social growth as individuals and members of communities,” report the study’s researchers. “They recognized that these benefits occur for themselves personally and for society as a whole.”
And yet, most of us aren’t taking time to actually connect with the natural world around us. In fact, another study found that the amount of time we go out into nature has actually been dropping consistently over the past decade. Don’t miss out on the health and wellness benefits of spending time in nature. Our connection to the natural world is this week’s self-care focus!
Editor’s note: This is part 6 of our 7-part series covering the 7 pillars of self-care. You can read more about the article series in our introductory blog post. The previous pillars discussed the importance of mental health and mental wellness, how exercise is a valuable form of self-care, why healthy eating and nutrition is key, how to reduce health risks, and the value of nurturing your spiritual health.
Why Spending Time in Nature is Good for Self-Care
We are constantly bombarded with emails, text messages, and notifications that make it hard to take a break.
And that’s why it’s more valuable than ever to take some time out of our hectic schedules to reconnect with nature.
Spending time in nature can have numerous benefits for our physical health, mental wellbeing, and overall happiness, and that’s why it’s one of the pillars of self-care that we should all invest in.
Physical Health Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
Spending time in nature has been linked to improved physical health in multiple studies. A 2015 study by Stanford University found that walking in nature reduced rumination—a type of repetitive thought associated with depression—by as much as 60%.
This means that taking a walk or hike through a park or forest can help reduce stress levels and improve overall physical health.
Additionally, research suggests that spending time in green spaces can increase your energy levels, reduce blood pressure, relieve muscle tension, improve sleep quality, and even boost immunity.
That’s right — we know vitamin C is good for the immune system, but vitamin N (nature) is just as important. “Researchers found that visiting a forest—but not a city—enhances natural killer (NK) cell activity,” explain the health experts at Alive magazine. “Moreover, further visits to the forest maintained a higher level of NK cell activity. Natural killer cells are a type of white blood cell that’s a key component of a healthy immune system.”
Mental Wellbeing Benefits of Nature
Studies have also shown that spending time outdoors helps improve mental well-being. Being surrounded by natural beauty helps us feel more connected to ourselves and the world around us. Studies also suggest that activities like gardening or walking on the beach can help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms while increasing self-esteem and emotional stability.
Spending time in nature also increases creativity by stimulating new ideas and providing an escape from everyday life dilemmas.
Furthermore, being exposed to natural light during the day has been linked to better moods at night due to its ability to regulate our body clocks naturally instead of relying on artificial lights such as those inside our homes or offices.
Time spent outside connecting with nature provides so many benefits for both physical health and mental well-being. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks or need an outlet for stress relief, take some time out of your day (or week) to get lost in nature! You’ll find yourself feeling more relaxed, creative, energized —and ready to tackle whatever comes your way!