3 Surprising Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
In a busy world that is swirling with endless demands and constant distractions, do you ever find your mind and soul desperately longing for an undisturbed moment of peace and solitude?
It’s no secret that screen and phone use are at an all-time high for children and adults alike. With immediate access to social media apps, games, and customized entertainment, this is how many of us “decompress” or try to manage our anxiety, depression, and overwhelm.
Furthermore, most of us have to-do lists that are unreasonably long and we often feel guilty for taking any time off to take care of ourselves. This can cause us to be in an almost constant sympathetic (fight or flight) state putting us at risk for a myriad of health issues and diseases.
All this connection is taking its toll and has increased our disconnect from nature. NOT spending time in the great outdoors can put us at risk for anxiety and depression and also cause vitamin deficiencies – especially Vitamin D.
And while we know that it makes us feel good to get outside and go for a refreshing walk or enjoy the sunset, evidence is mounting that spending time in nature is truly healing for our body, mind, and spirit!
In this blog article, we’ll explore the top 3 benefits of spending time in nature:
- Better Cognition
- Improved Immunity
- Enhanced Mental Health, Happiness, and Creativity
Vitamin D is crucial for our heart, nerve, muscle, immune, and lung health and the lack of it can cause some serious health conditions! Vitamin D also helps to absorb minerals that our body needs like calcium and phosphorus. Anywhere from 50%-90% of Vitamin D is absorbed through the skin via sunlight.
But it isn’t just the increase in Vitamin D that we get from being outside – our immune function is also improved by substances called phytoncides that plants put into the air. T cells (immune cells that help us to fight infection) are also energized by the sun!
Spending time outside (especially in the morning) also helps to reset your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle). This is so important as sleep itself is very healing!
Enhances Mental Health, Happiness, and Creativity
Spending just two hours a week in nature has been proven to decrease stress and increase happiness! This time can be spent over the course of the week, so taking a short walk outdoors several days a week will help you reap these benefits.
Serotonin levels increase when you are outside, this helps to raise your energy levels, keeping you calm, focused, and positive. This also helps to boost your creativity, just getting out for some fresh air can nudge your brain to start thinking in a new pattern!
8 Simple Ways to Spend More Time Outdoors
Here are a few tips to help you add some more nature to your life regardless of where you live:
- Read a book on your front porch or balcony or at a local park.
- Garden – whether it is just a few potted plants in a small space or participating in a community garden.
- Find a good place for watching the sunrise and sunset, even if you have to drive to see it.
- Have a picnic at your local park or greenspace.
- Go for a walk – there’s nothing like a little fresh air and exercise to help you replenish your soul!
- Check out a local farmer’s market.
- Give yourself a mission – count squirrels, find a certain type of flower, see if you can find any shooting stars, and journal about it!
- Fake it – decorate with plants and pictures of wildlife and scenery if you live in a climate that is so extreme you just can’t go outside that often! Even listening to rain sounds on an app can have a therapeutic effect.
For the history of humanity, people have spent more time outdoors than indoors… up until recently, and there’s no mistaking the negative consequences this can have on us as a society.
So when you find yourself overwhelmed, stressed, down, or anxious then take a few minutes to just be outdoors in some capacity and soak up all of the peaceful beauty around you. You’ll thank yourself for improving your cognition, immune system, mental health, and creativity!
Author: Dipa Chauhan
Dipa Chauhan is a board certified registered pharmacist and a certified functional medicine provider.
She has over 6 years of pharmacy experience ranging from retail pharmacy, mail order pharmacy and clinical hospital pharmacy. She completed a hospital pharmacy residency with rotations in ICU, nephrology, general medicine, pediatrics, drug distribution, cardiology and drug information.
Dipa Chauhan is a certified R Ph, CFMP, FLT Therapist, Functional and Lifestyle Medicine Provider.
Dipa’s love for cooking and helping people led to the creation of the “Doctor’s Orders: Your Essential Cookbook To A Plant Strong Anti-Inflammatory Diet”. Here you can find over 250 healthy and easy recipes, weekly shopping lists and menus. Through this website Dipa has benefited thousands of people all around the world.
Dipa enjoys spending time with her family, especially her son Devin. Dipa also enjoys exercising, walking and other outdoor activities.
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