Humans are fully intertwined with nature; our connection dates back to the prehistoric ages. That is why it impacts us so much, way more than we realize. Nature makes us broaden our vision, lengthens our life expectancy and increases our happiness. This hasn’t been only proved by hard, fact-based scientific research, but as an individual, you can feel it too.
A silent forest, a calm lake or an empty field – its tranquility overpowers us and soothes our brain. After a walk in the park, you feel calm and satisfied. When you spend some time close to the natural beauties of the world, you feel deeply grounded and connected to the world around you.
There is a well-known theory that suggests the reason that we feel so good in nature is because we have evolved in it. It is called the biophilia hypothesis, and it states that humans have an innate connection with nature, one that has a genetic basis. As a consequence, there is a unique correlation between nature and happiness. We feel better when we spend time in nature, that’s just a fact. Some studies have even found that how much time you spend in nature often predicts how happy you are, regardless of other factors.
In our Digital Age, we don’t spend as much time outside as we used to and on a global scale, we are suffering from a disconnection from the natural world. In Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Richard Louv explains how the lack of nature in the lives of today’s youth is linked to troubling childhood trends, including the rise of obesity and depression. A study by the American Institutes for Research found that children taught in outdoor classrooms have improved science scores of 27 percent. This once again shows how important nature is for us and the future generations.
“Deviation from nature is deviation from happiness.”Samuel Johnson
Nature nurtures. It heals our broken hearts and strengthens our feeble bodies. When you are outside, time slows down and for once, the overload of information stops. You are focused on only one thing and that is the present. You behold the beauty of nature and silently you witness its beauties. You feel that you belong to this Earth and it reminds you of who you truly are. You surrender comfort and control, and you accept that hardships are a part of life. Finally, your mind calms and you experience silence and stillness.
A study of the Wildlife Trusts of the University of Derby has shown that being close to nature improves your mood, reduces stress and makes you naturally immune to anxiety and emotional ups and downs. It also revealed that people who live close to nature are less ill and have overall better health. Many similar studies have been conducted, all of them concluded similar results. Some studies have even shown that patients that have a view of nature from their hospital room recover faster from operations than those who don’t. Another study showed how trees reduce domestic violence.
Nature reduces feelings of stress or anger, it makes you feel more relaxed and it improves your confidence and self-esteem. Spending time outside helps somatic disease, OCD and Seasonal Affective Disorder to name a few. It also reduces the chances of depression, stress and anxiety.
The positive impacts nature has on us are amazing and the list of benefits is long. To think that nature could have an actual effect on our mental wellbeing is crazy but true. Fortunately, more and more information around the subject is becoming accessible, and it has been integrated by doctors and scientists from around the world.
“A walk in nature walks the soul back home.”Mary Davis
The emergent field of ecopsychology is an example. It studies the relationship between people and the natural world through both ecological and psychological principles, with a focus on wellbeing. Another example is ecotherapy, which is a type of formal treatment that involves doing activities outside in nature. It can be performed alone, in a group or with a therapist too, and many have said it to be healing, energizing and stimulating.
So here’s my conclusion: nature is great. It is great for many, many reasons and most of those reasons have been thoroughly researched, explained and carefully examined. But those are simply words. To truly understand what that natural connection means, you need to feel it. Experience it. You need to step outside and just be. Only then will you taste the real beauty of nature.
Liked this piece? Also read: Why Is Self-Care An Absolute Important?
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