Created by the Center for Spirituality & Healing and Charlson Meadows.

Enhance Your Wellbeing In Nature

Get outside

As we noted earlier, nature reduces our anger, fear, and depression and increases our positive mood and psychological wellbeing. This not only increases our happiness, it makes us feel better physically.  

Time in nature also brings us out of ourselves and our narrow concerns and connects us to a larger world where we find beauty and interest. Thus the environment is connected not only to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health, but to purpose and community.

So it is clear that it is important to get outside! If you can get to the country, or a lake, that’s wonderful. But even if you live in an urban area, spend time in your yard or find a park or a greenspace with trees and bushes. Go outside on your lunch hour if you can to get a “breath of fresh air” and give your mind a break. You should find more energy for your afternoon mental tasks.

“Green” your exercise

We all know the long list of physical, mental, and emotional benefits of exercise. Exercise improves attention in the young and cognitive functioning in the old. It reduces stress and acts as an antidepressant. And of course, exercise is key if we would to avoid gaining weight, especially as we grow older. But much as we know all these benefits, we can’t always motivate ourselves to exercise regularly.

This is where nature can help. An appealing place to walk or bike can get us off our seats and moving. And once we start, the beauty of natural surroundings keeps us motivated to continue. Studies show that exercising outdoors decreases perceptions of fatigue.     

Moreover, exercising outdoors reduces stress and enhances mood even more than exercise indoors. In a study published in Mind, one group of participants walked in an area with woods, grasslands, and lakes, and the other in a shopping mall. The outdoors group had less depression, anger, tension, and overall better mood than the indoor group. A series of studies in Japan showed that walking in forests, as opposed to urban environments, lowered blood pressure and stress hormones well beyond the time of the walk.

So find somewhere with trees, bushes, wild grasses or flowers, water, and other such natural elements and go for a walk or run or bike.  Gardening is another wonderful way to be active outside.

Watch your screen time

According to the Bureau of Labor in June 2012, the average American spends 2.8 hours a day watching television, and that is probably a conservative estimate. In addition, some age groups spend significant amounts of time playing games or using computers for leisure. In all, it means that a lot of our leisure time is spent sitting indoors in front of a screen. 

And the risks associated with screen time are not insignificant, including insomnia, depression, and isolation, and increased mortality.

So consider how much time you spend each time in front of a screen (TV or computer). Could you reduce that time to go outside?  You can get even more benefit if you do so with a friend!

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