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The Therapeutic Power of Nature
Our world is fast paced, filled with digital distractions, constant stimuli and information overload, so finding moments of peace and calm can be challenging. Taking time out for ourselves to recharge and rest is essential for our wellbeing but has often become an afterthought.
Nature can give us a therapeutic haven and much needed break from the stressors that modern life brings. Nature time, or what I like to call “green time”, rejuvenates the body, nurtures the brain and soul and can restore calmness to our inner world.
When we are in nature, it can soothe our senses and help us connect more with the present moment. Whether we are taking a leisurely walk through a lush forest, taking in the scenery whilst hiking along a trail, or sitting by the ocean, when we are surrounded by the beauty of nature it can give us a deep sense of serenity. The sights, sounds and scents we experience have a calming effect and allow us a break from the everyday mental clutter which can cloud our minds.
Research shows that the quality of our environment can reduce or increase our stress levels, which has flow-on effects to our bodies. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.aax0903
Besides taking in the beauty, being in nature has many benefits to health. Studies have shown that spending time in the natural environment, and even just viewing scenes of nature, can reduce stress, anxiety, depression and even extend our lives. When we are in the peaceful setting of nature, our brain releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s happy hormones that boost our overall mental and physical well-being. Being in the outdoors has been linked to lower blood pressure, improved thinking and enhanced immune function.
The good news is that you don’t even have to go far to benefit from nature – there’s no need to travel to distant places or remote tropical destinations to reap the benefits of “green time”. Studies that have been conducted in different indoor settings such as hospitals, offices and schools have shown that even a small indoor plant can have a significant impact on reducing stress and anxiety.
It might surprise you to learn that just taking some time out to go to the local park or community garden can have an immense therapeutic benefit. If you live in an apartment, place some potted plants around your space and you will notice an immediate difference.
I am a big fan of stepping out and having some “grass time”, as I really enjoy putting my bare feet on fresh cut grass, or having a little picnic in my local green space. On my nightly walks, I also take time out to stop and smell not only the roses, but many of the flowers I see. I am a keen bird watcher and enjoy listening to the songs and observing the antics of my neighbourhood magpies, pigeons, corellas, cockatoos, kookaburras, and galahs.
There is a growing phenomenon known as “nature deficit disorder”. This refers to the increasing difficulties and disconnect from their natural world that people experience due to urbanisation and demands of our current world.
This highlights how important it is for us all to make sure we are taking a break from screens, stepping outside for a breath of fresh air and a moment of stillness. A break amidst greenery has been shown to improve concentration and productivity, making it a powerful solution to mental fatigue and burnout.
The simplicity and beauty that the natural world offers gives us an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves and find peace amongst the chaos. As we continue to navigate the challenges of modern existence, let us not forget the profound healing power of nature: A sanctuary that awaits us with open arms and boundless serenity.
Try Forrest Bathing. This started in 1980s Japan, and was designed to combat stress (and death) from overwork. It's all about moving slowly through a forest and the aim is to slow down and connect with nature using your senses.
Go spend some green time today – maybe start at our fabulous Botanic Gardens in Adelaide and try some forest bathing https://www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/
Keep an eye on our website – Monica will be leading some forest bathing mindfulness sessions in the Spring!