Nature's Healing Power: Benefits of Spending Time in Nature for Stress Relief
Stress triggers the release of hormones that prepare our body to respond to perceived threats, known as the "fight or flight" response.
Fight or Flight
While this reaction is beneficial in the short-term for enabling us to escape potentially dangerous situations, chronic activation of this response can harm our health. It increases the risk of anxiety, depression, and cardiovascular disease.
Therefore, finding ways to manage stress is crucial to our overall well-being. One effective method is spending time in nature, which has been shown to have numerous benefits for reducing stress and improving our mental and physical health.
The Science of Nature's Healing Power
As our society grows increasingly reliant on technology and our lives become more hectic, it's hard to imagine a world without our phones and computers. However, this disconnection from nature can have detrimental effects on our physical and emotional health, including increased stress levels, elevated blood pressure, and a decreased sense of overall well-being.
Disconnect From Nature
It's important to recognize the negative impact of this dependence on technology and prioritize reconnecting with nature for our holistic well-being.
The biophilia hypothesis suggests that our ancestors' innate survival instinct was to connect with nature to find food, water, predict future weather conditions, and navigate the environment. A plethora of studies indicate that satisfying our need to connect with nature improves our well-being, reduced anxiety, and stress.
This research paper discussed the topic of biophilia hypothesis, which is our ancestor’s innate survival instinct by connecting with nature to find food, water, predicting future weather conditions and navigating the environment.
Ways to Unleash Nature's Healing Power
Spending time in nature is an effective way to reduce stress and improve our mental and physical health. Here are some of the ways we can incorporate nature into our daily lives:
- Forest Bathing and Spending Time in Nature: The Japanese practice of "Shinrin-Yoku," or "forest bathing," offers a powerful way to reconnect with the natural environment. This ecotherapy practice has gained popularity around the world as a means of getting outdoors, calming our minds, and restoring our bodies.
- Japanese Onsen and Other Hot Spring Experience: Japan, a volcanically active nation, has thousands of Onsens spread across all of its major islands. Onsen, or hot springs, are said to have restorative and healing qualities. These hot springs are typically located in natural settings, which aids in connecting with nature, restoring tired mental and physical sensibilities, relaxing, and soaking in what nature has to offer through mineral-rich water.
- Incorporating Natural Elements into Your Home and Workspace: Bringing natural elements, such as plants or water features, into our home or workspace can help us connect with nature and reduce stress levels.
- Embracing Green Therapy: Engaging in gardening or horticulture not only reduces stress but also exposes us to sunlight, a natural mood enhancer. Concepts like "Dirt Therapy" or "Green Care" offer therapeutic benefits, alleviating tension and anxiety, subsequently reducing heart rate and blood pressure. The bacteria found in soil might even contribute to relieving skin inflammation like psoriasis and aiding in wound healing.
- Outdoor Adventures: Dive into swimming, hiking, biking, or camping. These activities not only divert our minds from worries but also break the confines of our work environment, fostering creativity and an overall sense of well-being.
According to a 2010 study, gardening lowers stress-induced cortisol levels and restores calm and relaxation. Gardening not only relieves tension, but it also exposes us to sunlight, which improves our mood. "Dirt Therapy" or "Green Care" are therapeutic principles that help relieve tension and anxiety, which in turn lowers heart rate and blood pressure while instilling a sense of control and calm. Bacteria in soil can also aid with skin inflammation, such as psoriasis, and even heal wounds. Soil bacteria can also help with dementia and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
--Dr. Northrup's paper on the agricultural effect further explores the numerous advantages of soil.
Spending time outside performing activities can take our minds off worrying situations, allow us to leave the limits of our work environment, improve creativity, restore chemical equilibrium in our bodies, and reduce stress hormone release, which reduces inflammation in our blood vessels and organs. The restorative quality of nature stimulates endorphin and serotonin release, which improves our mood and helps us cope with the stressors of our daily lives.
How to Include Nature in Your Daily Life
- Tiny steps: Take a 5-minute walk outside every day. Walk out to your work building's courtyard, walk to your yard and pull a few weeds, or simply stand and enjoy the sun or a pleasant wind.
- Have lunch outside: If it is pleasant outside, grab lunch and act like you're having a picnic while taking in the scenery.
- Create a green space inside: Put some indoor plants in the living room of the house. Plants may help purify the air, improve the energy in the house, and soothe our senses so that we feel as though we are outside in nature.
Nature has the power to reduce stress, anxiety, and blood pressure. Taking time to connect with nature and incorporating it into our daily lives can improve our overall well-being. Whether it's spending time in a park, practicing gardening, or enjoying a hot spring, nature can help us reduce stress and promote relaxation.