Everyone needs some nature in their life. Even if you live in a major city, it’s still important to find a way to either get out into nature or to bring nature to you. Spending time with nature is an important tool for a peaceful life.
There are many benefits of spending time in nature. Mary Zaunbrecher, MS, LPC wrote an article about several studies conducted on the benefits of being in nature. Here is an excerpt from the research she did.
“A 2012 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders, showed that for individuals diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), a walk-in nature—relative to a walk in an urban setting—results in improved short-term memory, working memory, and overall cognition. There you have it, time spent in nature helps our memory. In addition to increased memory, nature also has mental health and physiological benefits. Exposure to green space is associated with reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and ADHD; lower levels of inflammation and blood pressure; and improved immune system. I see many of these benefits firsthand with my clients in wilderness therapy. It’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about working in this setting.”
“Another study found in the journal Current Biology, shows that sleeping outdoors can help regulate your internal clock, or circadian rhythm, as you are typically going to bed with the sun and rising with the sun. This allows your body a proper amount of rest. Additionally, research published in the journal Anesthesiology shows that daylight (as opposed to artificial light) is an essential regulator of circadian rhythms. Disrupted circadian rhythms can contribute to physiological, cognitive, and other health consequences. While it is great to spend a night under the stars when you are able, it is healthy and beneficial to simply keep a routine of getting outside in the daylight during your lunch hour.”
“When you need an emotional boost, the fastest and easiest way is to spend a few minutes with nature,” says Katherine D. Arbuthnott, researcher and professor of psychology at the University of Regina in Regina, Saskatchewan. Arbuthnott co-authored a study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, which found that spending just five minutes in nature can both increase positive emotions and decrease negative emotions. Who doesn’t need that? Five minutes! Give it a try for your own natural mood boost. Additionally, research shows that spending more time outdoors helps increase your energy levels. In turn, this can improve our performance at work or help to create more energy to do the activities we love. Whether it is mountain biking, climbing, hiking, or going to the park with your kids, you’ll see the benefits internally after spending more time outdoors.”
“Finally, in a world that expects constant high performance, output, and efficiency—whether in the home or work environment—it is easy to feel the everyday stress of reaching these expectations. The great news? Going outside helps relieves stress! Numerous studies, including this one from the Behavioral Sciences journal, prove that visiting green spaces and being exposed to nature, even for a short amount of time per day, can help reduce stress levels. Seem too good to be true? Try it out! Incorporate at least 15 minutes of activity in nature each day this week and feel your stress levels begin to drop.”
You can find the whole article here https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-importance-of-spending-time-in-nature.
Cities are a relatively recent development in human history. If you live in a city, or a place without a lot of green space, there are still ways to spend more time in or with nature. All it takes is a little ingenuity and effort. Here are a few ideas.
Go to the park. Most towns and cities have a park within a reasonable distance. Where there are trees and grass, there are bound to be birds, squirrels, and other animals. Take a nice walk. Find a bench or a good spot under a tree and take a seat for a while. Just enjoy the surroundings.
Create a garden. If you have space for a garden, this is a great way to bring a little nature into your life. What could be more miraculous than planting a seed and watching it grow into something you can eat or into a flower? Think about that. A seed can pull nutrients out of the soil and turn into something else with just water and sunlight. That’s nature. If you don’t have any outdoor space, there are a number of indoor gardening options such as window gardening, or tower gardening.
Get a bird feeder. Put a bird feeder near a window and enjoy the view. Maybe you’ll decide to buy a book on birds and identify the birds you see. It won’t be long before you might see some squirrels, too.
Get a bird. Dogs, cats, and fish are fine, but if you want to bring some of the wild into your home, get a pet bird. Birds can be wonderful, interesting, and active companions. Keep in mind that some of the larger parrots can live 80 years or more! Some birds can be a lifelong commitment.
House plants. Maybe gardening isn’t your thing. That’s okay. You can have plants indoors. Head to your local garden center and become a plant-parent. A few plants can really enhance the mood of your home. Ensure that you have the proper amount of sunlight for each type of plant you choose. There are many plants that are great for filtering your air. Find a good plant store – most of their employees love to talk plants.
Add some nature related artwork to your surroundings. Driftwood, landscape paintings, photographs, and sculptures can all be nature oriented. You can also change your screensaver to display various nature scenes.
Nature sounds. It’s easy to find all types of nature sounds these days. You can make your home sound like the ocean, the jungle, or a rainstorm. The recordings are a lot better than they used to be. There are plenty of options you can try online for free. See what you can find.
Use natural scents. Filling your home with natural scents can also give the feeling of nature. Vanilla, sandalwood, and various flower scents are just a few of the many options available. Be sure that the scents you use are free of chemicals – you don’t want to breathe in a bunch of pleasant smelling poison.
Documentaries. Most people don’t have the time or the money to visit the cliffs of Norway, the volcanoes of Iceland, or the rainforest in Brazil. However, you can see all of these things from the comfort of your sofa. The entire world is available to you with your TV remote or computer screen.
Have you ever noticed how you feel different while spending time among the trees, flowers, and animals? There’s a sense of relaxation that you can’t attain any other way. It just feels right to be there.
Even committed city-dwellers will benefit from some time away from the asphalt jungle. Consider all of your options and give yourself the gift of nature.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.