During these times of uncertainty and anxiety, it’s important to find ways to help our our own mental wellbeing. Getting out into nature is a really positive and effective way to calm our minds, particularly in times of social distancing where we can’t seek our habitual forms of stress release.
Over the years, our relationship with nature has fallen dramatically. Currently, 74% of Europeans live in urban areas and we spend on average only 1-5% of our time outdoors. In the UK, 75% of children (aged 5-12) spend less time outside than prison inmates! Going out in nature affects us from our heads to our toes. Helping us in immeasurable ways, and to over look it, is doing ourselves a dis-service.
Our lives are incredibly stressful. We are bombarded with information which can lead to an overly re-active nervous system, being in this constant flight or fight mode which makes us feel stressed. Walking through nature as we know, naturally feels good. What exactly happens to the brain when you walk through a green space?
Studies have shown that moving through a green space acts as a buffer against stress. Naturally protecting yourself from the stresses of life, as we activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps not only mental health, but also supports our immune system.
Our bodies and our minds are connected to the natural world. It feels clean and naturally takes the edge off life’s stresses. It is said that humans have an affiliation to natural life. That is why we love plants in our homes. It is so nurturing to us. In a study it was shown that patients with a view of trees from their hospital beds had shorter post-operative stays, fewer negative evaluative comments from nurses, as well as lower scores of complication, versus those who didn’t have views of trees. We can really see how we can associate nature with healing.
We overlook the potential of being in nature. We need the natural world. During this surreal and anxiety prone time, we should look at the potential of the healing power of nature. Using our social distancing as a time to get offline and re-connect with our surroundings.
To find out more, why not have a listen to this brilliantly informative podcast with Ella Mills and acclaimed journalist Lucy Jones, discussing her book ‘Losing Eden.’