We all know how pleasant it is to spend time in nature, but did you know that it can actually increase your well-being? Here are some of the beneficial effects of being out in nature.
Lower Stress and Better Sleep
Time spent in nature can lower stress hormones and blood pressure, enhance the immune system and reduce the nervous system's arousal. These effects, in turn, allow you to get better sleep. According to Dr. Dominique Fradin-Read, improved sleep is an important key to slowing the aging process and experiencing better health.
Improved Mood and Concentration
Studies have shown that when you spend time in nature, it lessens anxiety and depression. People who are exposed to nature become more calm and balanced. Even pictures of nature can help. Time in nature also refreshes you and enables you to concentrate better afterward. Children with ADHD have a greater attention span after being in nature.
Stronger Connection to Others and to Your Environment
People have greater empathy and experience stronger connections with others after being in nature. Studies of people in public housing show that those who have trees and grass near their homes feel more connected to their neighbors and are more willing to help each other than those who don't have any green spaces nearby. People who experience nature also seem to feel a greater sense of belonging to the world around them.
Less Pain and Quicker Healing
Patients in the hospital after surgery have been shown to heal more quickly and experience less pain if they have a view of trees from their hospital bed. Those patients who saw a wall instead of trees did not heal as quickly, and they reported more pain. Even having plants or pictures of nature in hospital rooms has been shown to have beneficial effects on healing.
Enhanced Immune System
In Japan, people practice what they call "forest bathing," which involves spending time in the woods. Researchers have found that forest bathing increases the levels of natural killer cells produced by the immune system. These killer cells fight infections and tumors. Researchers believe that inhaling the natural aerosols from the forest is the reason for this effect. Inhaling natural oils from cedars seems to do the same.
Now that you understand the benefits, you should spend time in nature whenever you can. Your mental and physical health will be enhanced every hour that you are there.