Spending time in nature enables wellbeing
The more time we spend in nature, the calmer and more content we’re becoming. But why? What is it about nature that supports our physical and mental health and how can we make it work in our busy lives.
We’ve been travelling for over three months now and while on the road we’re living in our Jayco Basestation (which we adore). As lovely as our new home is, we find we spend much more time outdoors, despite the weather. We notice the way the shadows change during the day, the reflections on the river on a calm day, or the white caps on the ocean if it’s rough. We seem to appreciate the way the wind caresses the trees and how the leaves gently float to the ground, the endurance of the tall trees and the sounds of a waterfall getting louder and louder as you get closer and closer. It’s not that we never noticed these moments before, but now it feels like we have more time and space in our lives to fully appreciate them.
How nature enables wellbeing
The studies are clear. Spending time in nature enables wellbeing for individuals who invest in it. But, the reason behind it isn’t so obvious. I grew up in a nature loving family and it’s always been a big part of my life. What I’ve noticed is that when I spend time in nature I am much better at keeping perspective in my life – the rivers are impermeant, the stars are older than time, the mountains have been shaped by the wild environment around them and the trees seed, grow and die in a way the gives life to everything around them. When I’m surrounded by nature, be it trees, mountains, beaches or snow I feel like my worries and concerns are so irrelevant to the rest of the world. The trivial things that take space in my mind are really of no consequence to the ebb and flow of nature. It’s a beautiful reminder of what matters most.
The benefits of time in nature
The more time we spend in nature, the more likely we’ll be able to:
- manage our daily stresses
- reduce the heart disease
- improve our general mood
- reduce anger and fear
- boost our physical health
- develop more social connections
- build self-confidence and
- feel relaxed, calm and content.
Making time for nature
With over 50% of the world’s population living in cities and urban areas, it’s no wonder that the lack of nature is becoming a mental health concern. So how can we make time for nature when our lives are busier than they’ve ever been before? We have so many demands on our time these days. Spending time in nature shouldn’t be just another line on our ever expanding to do list. It should become a simple way of regrouping and relaxing.
Here are some things that are working for us:
- Exercise outside – Rather than heading to the gym or even a yoga studio, find a way to take your exercise routine to a park, beach or mountain. Living on the road, exercise naturally happens outside. I had to get over the fact that people might think it weird that I’d doing yoga at a skate park or weights next to our caravan. In the end, their opinion matters a lot less than either my physical or mental health. So, if you let go of what other people think, how could you create a little more time to exercise in nature?
- Eat outside – Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or just an apple, take an extra few minutes to find a nice space to sit outdoors. We spend a fortune on outdoor settings but tend to eat inside, watching Netflix instead.
- Meet outside – I know you love coffee. I can’t say I understand it, as I don’t drink coffee, but I do respect it. Typically, we meet in café’s and restaurants and miss the opportunity to connect with friends and family in a natural setting. Try going for a walk instead or meeting in a park or nature reserve. It’s better for your mental health and your budget.
- Rest outside – We have never been a big TV or technology family, but now even less so. Most nights we sit around a fire, often chatting with people we’ve just met. The kids are listening to old men’s tall tales, watching the sun set and learning more than they ever could from a video game.
This week explore new ways to connect with nature and see if it makes a difference to your physical and mental health. I think you’ll find, like we are, that the more time we spend in nature, the better we feel. That’s essentailly because nature enables wellbeing.