Anecdotally, many people already know that spending time in nature makes them feel better. They feel more alive, more creative, and more at peace with the world around them. And now a growing body of clinical and scientific evidence is showing that time spent in nature, indeed, is good for both the mind and body.
Just a half day hanging out at the park or hiking in the local woods can do wonders for your immune system, say researchers. That’s because time spent in nature can actually help to stimulate the production of white blood cells that are known immune system boosters. So the next time you’re thinking about blending up a tasty fruit and veggie smoothie to boost your immune system, why not go outside for a breath of fresh air instead?
Let’s admit it, it can feel pretty Zen to spend time outside. It’s the reason people love to go for long, solitary hikes – you can almost feel your worries and cares melting away. And now researchers have found that simply spending time in green spaces can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Stress is the result of the body’s production of a stress hormone known as cortisol. But time in nature helps to curb the production of that hormone. And that leaves you feeling better and more energized.
When you’re spending time in nature, you could just be sitting down on a park bench and (literally) taking time to smell the flowers. But, more likely, it means that you are actively moving around. Maybe you are biking around the neighborhood, or going for a long walk, or simply taking your dog out for some playtime in the back yard. But you are moving around, and that qualifies as aerobic exercise activity. Thus, you are boosting your heart and cardiovascular system, and it doesn’t even feel like exercise!
It’s a technique that writers, painters and poets have been using for centuries – any time they have a creative block, they simply go outside to be inspired for ideas. Some writers, in fact, love to carry around a little notebook with them so that they can immediately jot down new ideas as they occur. Even if you are not an artist, you’ll feel more creative and inspired. You might even hit upon a fantastic new idea that you can use at the office the next day, or some new insight about parenting that can help you become a better parent.
Did you know that the Japanese have a word for spending contemplative time in nature. They call it “Shinrin-yoku” and it can be interpreted as “forest bathing.” You are literally soaking up the good vibes of the forest, and that has a very relaxing effect on your mood. It’s the same reason why people listen to the gentle surge of the waves at the beach or the sounds of a forest whenever they want to calm down and relax – there is something about nature that is very soothing.
So, as you can see, there are many benefits to spending time in nature. Try getting outside on a regular basis, and you’ll be surprised at how much better you think and feel.
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