Modern life offers us all the convenience and comfort our ancestors lacked hundreds of years ago. We have the internet, smartphones, TV, home delivery, cars, packaged food, and so much more.
The amenities are great, but we are lacking something major that our ancestors didn’t—time spent in nature. While they worked in large green fields and farms, we work in cubicles and offices. Every free moment we get, we spend it scrolling through social media on our compact devices. Weekends are spent catching up on sleep or binging on a new Netflix series.
More and more people are staying indoors instead of going out. The constant lack of sunlight and being away from nature has resulted in an increase in issues, both physical and mental. These effects were magnified during the lockdowns imposed due to the pandemic.
How Nature Affects Your Mind and Body
There’s a reason why we love to vacation in places with a natural view. Research shows that just viewing scenes of nature can cause a relaxing response and decrease stress. Anyone who has ever breathed fresh mountain air or sat by the beach watching a sunset knows how calming the experience is.
Spending time in nature is especially beneficial for those suffering from depression. A study found that a 50-minute walk in nature positively affected the mood and memory of people diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
The effects of nature aren’t limited to our minds, they influence our bodies too. Forty-six patients who had undergone a gallbladder surgery were given rooms with windows either looking out on a natural setting or facing brick walls. The patients with the tree-view had shorter hospital stays, took fewer painkillers, and faced slightly lower complications compared to the patients with the wall-view.
This study shows that nature helps our bodies heal faster and even reduces pain.
How to Spend More Time in Nature
We’re all busy and spend most of our time indoors, either in offices or at home, surrounded by digital gadgets. Little time is spent outdoors and as a result, our disconnect with nature is growing. The good news is, we don’t need to spend a lot of time outside to reap the benefits of natural exposure. Spending only 120 minutes a week in nature can improve our health and well-being. That’s basically 20 minutes per day. Not a big ask, is it?
So, the question arises, how can we spend more time in nature away from the demands of our daily lives?
There are a couple of ways:
1. Schedule breaks to go outside
When you’re planning your workday, make sure you schedule some time to go outside. Going for a walk during the day can be refreshing since it allows you to take a break from work and also gives you a chance to engage in physical movement. If your work is more on the creative side, a walk can be the perfect way to let ideas incubate.
2. Work outdoors
This may not be possible for everyone, but if you work from home or your job allows it, you can choose to work outdoors sometimes. Working in a quiet cafe with outdoor seating or a park will not only bring a change in your environment but also lead to increased productivity.
3. Spend your weekends in nature
While the temptation to order pizza and binge on that new TV series is strong, try to fight it and make plans to go outside. Trust me, your weekend will be much more enjoyable if you spend it with friends or family hiking, camping, or going on a road trip.
4. Get indoor plants
If you can’t go outside, bring some of nature into your home. Houseplants enhance the appearance of your home and are pleasing to look at. They also improve your mood, memory, and concentration. Spider plant, peace lily, and aloe vera are some low-maintenance plants that can be a great addition to your home.
Connecting with nature has a multitude of benefits to us. And the best part is, it’s totally free! We inherently find nature pleasing, but due to our increased dependence and addiction to technology, we’re spending less and less time outside. It’s time to change that.
Make it a habit to spend more time in nature every week. Pause to smell the roses, walk in a lush forest, stop to watch that beautiful sunset. Rekindle your love for nature.