Intuitively, humans know that nature – and being outdoors – is good for us.
The body of research showing evidence that a connection with the earth makes us happier and healthier is rapidly growing.
Last year, a month-long British investigation by the University of Derby showed just how significant time in nature really is.
The researchers showed that there was a noticeable increase in the health and happiness, of 300,000 participants.
This study adds to a growing body of evidence that proves definitively that we need nature for our health and wellbeing.
For example, children exposed to the natural world display increases in self-esteem. An Australian Beyond Blue study proved that children who experience high levels of contact with nature have higher levels of self-worth and better cognitive function. In some cases nature can improve the symptoms of ADHD, by calming kids and helping concentration.
In contrast, poor access to nature may have serious negative effects on the physical, emotional and cognitive development of children and teenagers.
Interacting with nature can help also people suffering physical illness and mental health disorders, such as anxiety, control their symptoms.
There is researched evidence that exposure to nature can reduce high blood pressure, respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses.
From a mental health point of view, being more connected to nature can improve vitality and mood; and reduce anxiety and fatigue.
In direct correlation to the mental and physical benefits; our emotional well-being is also affected. Connecting to nature has been shown to relate to satisfaction, happiness and mindfulness.
So why does nature improve our well being?
Natural light is proven to help us sleep and reset our circadian rhythms, and sunshine provides much needed vitamin D. But how does nature – seeing it, being in it, connecting with it – have such powerful restorative effects?
A definitive reason has yet to be pinned down, however psychologists suggest that nature restores mental functioning in the same way that water and food restore bodies. The business of everyday life – making decisions, answering phones, dodging traffic, interacting with strangers - is depleting. What the man-made environment takes away, nature gives back.
Attention Restoration Theory (ART) says that urban environments are draining because they direct our attention to specific tasks and bombard us with information and stimulation. These demands don’t exist in nature, which allows us to think as little or as much as we want. While forests, streams, the ocean and the sky are engaging, changing and attention grabbing, they demand very little from us.
The urban landscape is associated with stress – traffic jams, workplace drama, crowds. Nature promotes calmness and well-being because it exposes people to very low levels of stress.
It’s a reciprocal relationship of course - our interactions with nature are just as important for protecting nature and the environment.
Being in nature isn’t a miracle cure for diseases, but by spending time and appreciating it we can gain the benefits of feeling happier and healthier as a result.
So get out into the garden or your local park, smell the spring Jasmine and enjoy the sunshine.
Even a few moments will reset your day, reduce stress, refocus attention and hasten healing.
You don’t need much… Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even one pot plant can have an impact on anxiety and stress!
Jarvis Hypnotherapy in Bondi Junction / Woollahra believes that we all have more powerful personal resources and abilities than we are consciously aware of. Our complimentary 20min consultation can be the first step you take into living your life more freely and fully, in alignment with what is authentic and meaningful for you.