If you can’t find two hours in a week to connect with nature or be outdoors, you’re living life wrong.
Don’t believe us? Perhaps this study will change your mind. Conducted by the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter, the study followed outdoor behavior patterns in 20,000 people to conclude that two hours a week with nature is all it takes for the mind to feel better.
Schumann’s resonance provides undeniable evidence that all the cells in our body become grounded when we touch the earth. When in contact with the elements of nature, almost instantaneously, our body starts healing. But, we’re so busy in our lives, on our screens, that we’ve chosen to spend most of our time indoors. According to a study conducted by Velux, the “New Indoor Generation” spend about 90% of their time inside, whether that’s at home or work.
We’ve turned a blind eye to the adverse effects of staying indoors for extended periods. Not only are we facing severe vitamin deficiencies, but being boxed inside our four walls has also been linked to increasing levels of anxiety and depression and deteriorating levels of mental health. Supplements help, of course, but perhaps the only real supplement you need is nature. The more you stay indoors, the lesser you learn about human interaction.
Mould, pollen, and pet hair combined with volatile organic compounds worsen indoor quality. Humidifiers, air purifiers, and a handful of indoor plants can only do so much. There’s nothing like the great outdoors or nature in its purest.
Suppose you’re searching for a textbook answer about the benefits of spending time in nature. In that case, you’ll find many across the web, and the major ones include decreased stress levels, reduced blood pressure and blood glucose, a boost in creativity, and better sleeping patterns. But, most importantly, what they don’t mention is how nature lets you take time for yourself, a quiet space – a healthy space where you can tune in to yourself to let go of everything that’s bothering you.
Another study conducted between 1972-1981 in a Pennsylvania hospital showed that patients who had a window view of trees healed faster than those with a view of a drab wall. So, does this mean that just looking at what nature offers is enough? Sure, it’s a start, but for the whole immersive experience, you must employ the five senses. So, yes, even inhaling the smells in nature can act as aromatherapy.
Forest Bathing – Taking in the Forest Atmosphere
The term Forest Bathing or Shinrin-Yoku emerged in Japan in the 1980s as a physiological and psychological exercise(“forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”). The purpose was twofold: to offer an eco-antidote to tech-boom burnout and to inspire residents to reconnect with and protect the country’s forests.
To actively participate in Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing, one must absorb all of nature with all five senses. Forest bathing helps lower pulse rate, promote lower cortisol concentrations, and reduce stress while rendering a feeling of “calm,” “comfortable,” and refreshed. But, not all of us are lucky to be surrounded by hills, streams, or forests. So, what can you do then? If there are lush parks in your surrounding, carve out time in your day to take a walk. Literally, stop and smell the roses. Listen to the chirping of the birds, feel the texture of the leaves and petals, and if you’re 100% sure it’s not poisonous, chew on a berry or two!
No parks around you? Find a tree instead! Yes, be a tree hugger. Hugging a tree and paying your version of a tribute to it can increase oxytocin levels that trigger calmness and emotional bonding. There’s also enough evidence that trees can perceive and feel our hugs too! However, we’re so caught up in our heads about what people might think and that people may find it ridiculous.
If this bothers you, you can create a forest bathing experience at home. You can do so by filling your home with as many lush greens as possible. If they radiate a forest smell, even better. If you only have plants with no discernible aromas, invest in an aromatherapy diffuser. Finally, practice some deep breathing meditation techniques as you play the sounds of nature in the background. An excellent way to be aware of your breath is to inhale for four seconds, hold for four, and exhale for six. There are several other patterns like this one but start with a guided meditation for self-care if you find your mind wavering.
Our health is essential – both mental and physical, and it’s time we took some action. Start small and take it one day at a time. Our bodies don’t particularly enjoy rude shocks too. So, to get your juices flowing, start with 10-30 minutes of midday sunlight each day. Take a walk, smile at someone, and let nature heal you.