Spending time in Nature is better than Therapy!
Sure, I’ll admit it, I’m a tree hugger. And so is my daughter! We just LOVE spending time outside. In fact, I try to make it a point to get outside and into nature as often as possible, every day actually, even if it just means having a picnic lunch in out backyard or finding a good place to splash through some puddles. One of the biggest reasons we moved here was because we wanted to live in a place that has tons of access to nature and here it certainly abounds. I can easily get to a number of hiking trails under 20 minutes and spend some quality time with the trees!
It’s a great activity to get some wiggles out, getting any extra bit of sunlight is great but there’s also so much more to getting in some daily nature time.
Think about the last time you were in nature. How did you feel? Chances are that if you were surrounded by trees, listening to a stream or even the birds chirping or maybe had your feet in the sand and the sun on your back you felt pretty peaceful. It’s hard to feel stressed or anxious when you’re communing with Mother Earth and all her fabulousness. It’s not your imagination! Studies have actually shown that spending time in nature on a regular basis can actually reduce your blood pressure, heart rate and the production of those unwanted stress hormones.
Our bodies are used to being in nature- it’s how we evolved. If you think about the human race that’s how it all started we lived off the land, we knew what weather patterns meant, we knew how to survive in the great outdoors. Nowadays we don’t even know what foods are supposed to grown in the environment that we live in! How did we become so disconnected from our environments?
Would you believe that “forest bathing” can even help boost our immune systems? The Japanese have been doing this to encourage healthy lifestyles and reduce stress but recent studies have shown that it even boosts the component of the immune system that fights cancer. Forest bathing involves using all 5 senses to really experience the forest. You don’t have to go for a strenuous hike through the woods to reap the benefits, all you have to do it be still and really take it all in.
Nature even helps us age more gracefully. A study by the Journal of Aging showed that adults aged 70 that spent time in nature daily had less sleep problems, pain and a lower decline of activity at age 77.
It can help your kids concentrate and focus! Studies have shown that kids who spend time outside, playing in green outdoor spaces, had better concentration and fewer symptoms of ADHD when compared to kids that spent their after school and weekend time playing indoors. You’ve probably noticed this in your own kids too! I know that my daughter is so much happier and less hyper not after spending time in nature. It becomes like a chain reaction, the more time we spend outside the less interested she is in doing things like watching TV and the more she just wants to go and play outside. That’s one of the reasons I’m not afraid to put on the rain coats and rain boots and go splashing through the puddles as often as possible!
You can trade in antidepressants for some time in nature! A study by Stanford University shows that just spending time walking in nature can help lead to a lower risk of depression. One of their studies showed that a 90 minute walk in a natural area showed decreased activity in an area of the brain associated with a key factor of depression when compared to people who walked for 90 minutes in a high traffic, urban setting.
The bottom line is that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by making it a point to spend time in nature every single day with the whole family. Even if you don’t have too much time, every little bit helps. Maybe pack a lunch and have a picnic on the grass, find a wooded area near you, or a park with lots of trees. Depending on where you live you’ll have access to different things but even in the urban jungle on New York City you can still find plenty of nature in the parks. If you make it a point to find places near you you’ll surely find some great spots to connect with the earth!