‘A walk-in nature, walks the soul back home’ – Mary Davis
The environments that we are confined to can impact our body, mind and spirit profoundly. What we hear, touch, smell and see can not only affect our mood but our nervous, endocrine and immune systems as well.
Say you are in a stressful environment, your heart rate goes up, elevating your blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension, suppressing your body’s systems. You would find that the opposite happens in a relaxed and more pleasant environment like a spa or a walk in the woods listening to bird song.
Being in nature or even just viewing nature from a window can reduce feelings of anger, pain and stress. We are literally genetically programmed to find elements of nature engrossing as we humans were not made to sit inside all day. Nature can lower the production of stress hormones and researchers have even stated that it could reduce mortality.
Even a single potted plant in a hospital room or classroom can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety. Other research has even shown that when participants had a view of nature the part of the brain that is associated with love and empathy lit up. In comparison, when they viewed urban scenes the part of the brain that is associated with fear and stress was activated.
No matter how old, young, ones culture or gender, humans have always found nature pleasing and relaxing. Researchers discovered through a survey that more than two thirds of people chose a natural setting to retreat to when they are stressed.
‘Nature deprivation’ as you can probably guess is caused by a lack of time spent in the natural world. Today, it’s normally due to large hours spent in front of computer and TV screens which has been shown to have links with causing depression and anxiety.
During lockdown this number of hours has probably increased significantly as we’re passing time by watching films with our families and playing video games on our phones.
More studies have even associated screen time with a lack of empathy and altruism. So instead of binge watching another series on Netflix or playing one last game on FIFA, maybe just stand outside for 5 minutes and listen to the sounds of nature. I can guarantee you will spend longer out there without even intending too!
By Daisy S