Are you really stressed out and feel like you are losing your mind at times? If so, I have great news for you! Being out in nature is an amazing stress reliever; there are both mental and physical benefits. I wanted to start here, because I believe that in many cases that physical issues can actually start with the mind. Take over eating for example. If you are stressed and use food as comfort, then this can lead to eating too much, which adds weight to your body.
Through our five senses, we get stimulation that can either help or hinder us. Too many loud noises, bad smells, etc. can quickly turn our happiness to headaches.
Through being in nature, your 5 senses receive ONLY positive input.
For those foodies out there, I think you can agree that food just tastes better in the outdoors! Whether it’s a backyard BBQ, picnic at the park, or a meal around the campfire. Even a simple breakfast like oatmeal can feel like a gourmet meal.
For those hiking treks, it’s most natural to take food such as granola bars, dried fruit, and trail mix. These foods provide you with plenty of energy and will keep you going on those long hikes. I’ve never seen anyone take pizza, doughnuts, or beer with them out on the trail. Now, I do have friends that love to eat big meals after a hike. However, they have burned enough calories during the hike that they won’t gain weight by eating the hamburger or burrito.
Compare this to when you stuff your face at home and then go plop on the couch for the rest of the morning. You have all those calories that aren’t going anywhere.
On this note, make a habit of heading out to hike on the weekends vs. watching tv or going to the mall. It will take a shift in your mind set, but once you start getting out in nature on a more regular basis it will turn into a habit. It will be something that you just have to do.
The touch of nature is something that we may not always think about as being a benefit. Compare the touch of nature to the touch of a stale office environment- which includes sitting on hard office chairs, clicking on a keyboard, or standing on concrete all day.
In nature, you can collect rocks, climb trees or mountains, or swim in the lakes and oceans just to name a few. The last time I took my kids to Big Lake, they skipped rocks for hours.
Playing in the dirt is fun and therapeutic as well; just ask someone who likes to garden or a child who is covered in mud.
There is a healing technique called earthing. This is where you walk barefoot outdoors so you can pick up the energy from the earth. For the real adventurous, there are barefoot hiking clubs.
According to earthing.com, we can feel isolated from the Earth by non-conductive materials such as rubber and plastic (our shoes), wood, plastic, laminate, and asphalt (flooring surfaces). Unless you are a Park Ranger, you are exposed to these daily because the materials are prominent in office buildings, malls, and other enclosed spaces.
If you are able to, get outside during your lunch break and walk around the park or other available green space.
The peaceful sounds of nature are soothing and satisfying to our souls. Loud sounds found in the City such as jack hammers, revving engines, and sirens can easily grate on ones’ nerves.
With a trip to the mall with your kids, the only sounds you might hear include the crowds of people and your kids crying because they didn’t get the toy they wanted. In nature, you’ll hear the beautiful sounds of nature; birds chirping, wind whipping through the trees, and the gentle sounds of the river.
Don’t underestimate what a negative coworker can do to your mood either. Hearing someone complain all day definitely will affect your mental well-being.
The trees and plants don’t complain- they are happy where God planted them. During those stressful weeks at work, it is even more important to combat this with a trip outdoors.
The smells of nature are unique and cannot be duplicated anywhere else. In the forest, there is the smell of the damp earth combined with old fallen leaves. This earthy smell has a calming effect. The trees also have their own distinct smells. Some can have a sweet smell while others are almost sour or bitter, but they're all wonderful. Walking through a forest of pine trees can be one of the most enjoyable experiences ever. The smell of a river is more difficult to describe, but I just know how relaxing it is to watch.
My favorite smell in nature is a campfire. I guess it takes me back to my childhood days when my family would go camping. How often do you smell car exhaust or garbage and it takes you back to happy days? It just doesn’t happen.
Visiting new areas will give you a renewed appreciation for where you live. I go hiking all the time, and I have barely scratched the surface on places I still want to go. The areas I have hiked have all been spectacular in their own majestic way. Here in Arizona, you can hike in the desert among cacti or in a forest of Pine Trees all in the same day. Hiking in my opinion, is one of the best ways to see your State. There are many different types of plant and animal life that you will not see otherwise.
With hiking and being out there in nature, we get to spend more time in the sun. The sun gives us Vitamin D which is important to our immune system and bone health. This natural lighting is way healthier than the artificial lighting that many people work under on a daily basis.
If you have a long commute you may see a long line of cars ahead of you, and nothing but concrete and billboards along the way. Is it any wonder why you are in a bad mood sometimes after a long day of sitting in traffic and being in a cube or office all day? Getting out in nature and being active is the best way to alleviate stressors in your life.
I hope this article encourages you to get out in nature more. You only receive positive input into your senses when you are out in nature. There are numerous different outdoor activities you can get involved and there is something for everyone.
What other benefits does getting out in nature provide to your mental well-being? What else you do appreciate about nature? I would love to hear your comments.