The Healing Power of the Outdoors
Society seems designed to keep us indoors. Whether frantically working away on our laptops at Wi-Fi hotspots, attending yet another lecture, or at a part-time job, these activities always seem to be happening within four walls. Stepping outside is a challenge, but it is a necessary one. When we consciously take the effort to venture into nature, and put in the time and energy to make it a habit, we are rewarded physically, mentally, and emotionally. In doing so, we become better at all of those indoors activities.
When stationary in one spot, we tend to rely on coffee or energy drinks to keep us going and finish that assignment. Instead of taking a trek to the nearest coffee shop or convenience store, try venturing into a park or forest area instead. According to studies from the Journal of Environmental Psychology, it only takes a 20-minute wooded walk to boost your energy and mood. Whereas excessive screen time can deplete our energy and heighten depression, studies have shown that people who live close to forests have significantly lower chances of getting various forms of cancer. Even if you are surrounded by concrete, a park is likely not far away.
That daily walk will not only soothe your body, but sharpen your mind as well. The vitamin D from sunlight is a surefire mood-booster. If you know you will be stuck inside for much of the day, try working by the window and having many plants around your desk. Plants have been shown to aid in cognition and energy levels. However, scheduling in regular outdoor breaks from school or work will help relieve stress and even improve your short-term memory. It is a simple but effective way to return to your work with greater focus, clarity, and positive state of mind.
All of these benefits will ultimately have a profound effect on you emotionally. The University of Rochester conducted a study that found that exposure to nature makes people more generous and enhances their awareness of the community around them. It causes a reinforcement of our deep connection to all living things. This can also be achieved by eating natural and organic foods. If you can, plant your own fruits or vegetables in a backyard space or in pots. Even something as seemingly inconsequential as colours can have a major impact – research has shown that environments with both green and blue, such as leafy trees next to a body of water, can benefit your emotional wellbeing. If you are able to escape to nature for a longer period of time, such as with a wilderness retreat, you will gain a significant creativity boost. The positives of taking the time, energy, and money for these outdoor excursions far outweigh any of the negatives.
Advancing technologies are likely to continue their dominance over our society, and we will only be further encouraged to remain indoors. Laptops, cell phones, and other devices beckon us, keeping everyone chained to their seats. Yet the lure of constantly being glued to our screens to get work done is ironically counterproductive. Taking the time to step outside and take in nature will make the time in front of your screen far more effective. This can start with scheduling short walks in a park, and develop into regular excursions and even longer getaways. Your body and mind will thank you.
CanyonRanch. “The Healing Power of Nature.” https://www.canyonranch.com/blog/mind-and-spirit/the-healing-power-of-nature/
Selhub, Eva. “A Doctor Explains How To Take Advantage Of The Healing Power Of Nature.” Mbgplanet. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-30024/a-doctor-explains-how-to-take-advantage-of-the-healing-powers-of-nature.html
Sprouse, Sydney. “10 Reasons Why Being Outside is Important.” Ask the Scientists. https://askthescientists.com/outdoors/
UCDavis. “The Healing Powers of Nature.” https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/blog/archive/healthy-habits/healing-powers-nature