4 Reasons Connecting with Nature can be Good for Your Health

By Robin Raven (Original article: OneGreenPlanet.org)

Many people have feelings of enchantment and wonder at the beauty of nature that go back to their very first experiences hiking and camping in childhood. Being in nature can inspire a sense of awe and help you find greater meaning in your everyday life. What you may not know is that immersing yourself in nature can offer short-term and long-term benefits for your health. Let’s take a look at some major reasons that getting in touch with the natural world can be fantastic for your health and overall well-being.

Reason #1: Nature Can Reduce Your Stress

While urban life is connected with increased levels of depression, The New York Times revealed that even a walk in the park can improve mental health. According to a poll from The Nature Conservancy, 90 percent of youth who spent time in nature said that it helped alleviate stress. Even having a window view at your office can help reduce work stress and increase feelings of well-being. When you feel stress coming on, try to find a few minutes to breathe deeply in a natural setting and focus on leaving stress behind.

Reason #2: Nature Can Boost Your Immune System

Contact with nature has been shown to support overall health and well-being. There are over 20 established pathways between exposure to nature and the enjoyment of good health. Although it remains unclear how nature can protect you from diseases like cancer, heart disease, depression, and diabetes, studies suggest that it does offer protection from these illnesses. It can protect you on multiple levels, helping you retain mental and physical health.

Reason #3: Nature Can Help You Recover from Illness

Enjoying even a small bit of nature can work wonders when people are recovering from illnesses, too. Hospital gardens have medical benefits for patients who enjoy them as they heal. Also, being in natural settings has been shown to help decrease systolic blood pressure and cortisol levels, which can aid in recovery and promote greater health. It can improve sleep patterns, which helps promote health and healing.

Reason #4: Nature Can Increase Your Energy Levels

If you are often forcing yourself to get going in the morning and rely on caffeine and other energy boosts to complete the work day, you may need to assess whether you can make time to immerse yourself in a bit of nature in the morning. The University of Rochester revealed that several studies indicated that exposure to nature can increase energy levels and simply help people feel more alive. A greater sense of vitality can motivate them to do more as well.

Ultimately, the quantifiable benefits that nature has for human health shouldn’t be ignored. If you find it hard to find the time to enjoy the great outdoors or find your access to nature is limited, there are still some ways that you can reap the rewards of spending time in nature. Some studies suggest that even looking at photos of nature can be restorative. Prioritize time in the great outdoors by marking it on your schedule and savoring the moments when you are able to escape to natural settings.

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