NATURE AND WELL BEING
The world outside our built environment is rich in many ways, but the principal one for me is the sense of freedom it gives us. Our daily lives now are incredibly busy, not just with functional tasks that need completing, but with the incessant pressures of online communication, social media, news coming from though to us from every possible media source and the general feeling that we should be doing more than we are and that we are probably not good enough! These constant sources of anxiety impact on people of all backgrounds, ages and circumstances and in different ways, and are increasingly hard to switch from.
That is until we go outside.
Being in natural world immediately fills our heads with a myriad of other sensory distractions and if we engage with them, gives us a way of quiet those worrying thoughts and feelings and connect with the now, to discover ourselves and our surroundings in the moment.
It doesn’t really matter where we go, whether it’s remote mountain or the corner of the local park, in places where we can connect to the natural world we can reconnect with ourselves, slow down, take time to stop, breath and clear the muddle. Whether it’s a moment of mindfulness at lunchtime or a weekly course of bush craft skills to build confidence and resilience, the variety of ways in which we can benefit from time spent in natural environment is enormous.
Our affinity towards nature is genetic and deep rooted in evolution. For example, have you ever wondered why the most people prefer to book accommodations that have a great view from the balcony or the terrace? Why patients who get natural view from their hospital bed recover sooner than others? Or why does it happen that when stress takes a toll on our mind, we crave for time to figure out things amidst nature.
Just a walk in the wood or a stroll by the beach on a sunny morning can awaken the innermost feelings of happiness and peace.
The benefit of staying close to nature is diverse. We can enjoy positive effects of connecting to the environment at all level of individual well-being. By staying close to nature, we feel more grateful and appreciative of what it has over to us. Seeing the wonders of the world outside automatically foster within us the urge to protect it.
Breathing in nature gives us wholesome sensory awareness. When we spend time with outdoors, we are mindful of what we see, what we hear, what we smell and what we feel. Outdoor activities such as hiking, gardening and bird watching, enhance the nature – human connection and acts as a catalyst to happiness.
THE HUMAN- NATURE RELATIONSHIP AND HEALTH
When you look in the mirror, you are checking how you appear, what you seem to be, and whether it matches how you feel inside. Thinking about human nature is the equivalent of our whole species looking in the mirror to check its identity. Just as we all react differently to our own reflections in the mirror, the reflection we call human nature is also often disputed.
By definition, human nature includes the core characteristics (feelings, psychology, behaviors) shared by all people. We all have different experiences of the humans in our life and this where the disputes begin. Some people will tell you humans are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘predators’ or ‘capable’ of great kindness. These views are colored by the influence of the people we know and what our culture and subcultures tell us. The group you are born into will pass on its particular ideas about what makes “humans”.
The relationship between human and nature can be described in different ways; it can be beautiful, cruel or at times puzzling. Human responds to nature in different ways. Based on their surrounding, humans can simply accept nature, deal with their situation, or make effort to change it. In some words we can say that: –
“Oceans, lakes, rivers and streams,
In our memories and dreams.
Mental and physical pleasures
Of fresh air,
we stop and we stare.
A place where we could sit
and just think,
That nature and humans,
share a deep link.”
A strong human-nature relationship means emotional balance, more focus, solution- oriented thinking, and an overall resilient approach to life.
- Staying close to nature improves physical conditions like hypertension, cardiac illness and chronic pain. It also improves mental health conditions like attention disorders, mood disorders and different form of anxiety.
- Nature walks benefit people suffering from depression
- Nature helps in emotional regulation and improves memory functions.
- Outdoor activities reduce the chances of developing eyesight problems like hypermetropia and myopia.
- A strong connection to the natural environment enhances emotional well being and alleviates feeling of social isolation.
- Just by being outdoors and using our all our senses to appreciate nature, we can be more mindful to the present, gain emotional resilience, and combat stress with more vitality.
- We become naturally immune to anxiety, emotional ups and downs and thought blocks; therefore feel more lively and energetic than before.
Nature is undoubtedly the best healer. Spending time in nature awaken our senses and provides clarity. Many studies have proved that people who have closed connection to landscapes are happier from inside – they indulge themselves in positive thinking and have better coping mechanism than others. Staying close to nature, observing all the little and significant elements of it, and appreciating it from the very core is the therapeutic and self-healing.
Even by saying or doing nothing, we can learn so much from connecting from our natural surroundings. It gives the perspective for healthier living, the motivation to carry on, and the energy to keep trying. For there is no bond more primitive and ingrained in us than our love for nature and nature’s care for us.
“We must cherish the natural world because we are part of it and we depend on it.”
(DENTIST, WRITER & SOCIAL WORKER)