As someone who has struggled with chronic depression along with chronic pain, I can’t express enough the advantages of nature.
Nature is super good for your health even if you are not a big fan of the outdoors. First off, there is Vitamin D you get from the sun – which many people are deficient in. Second, there is grounding which is known to have significant health benefits. Third, exercising in nature is usually better than a gym. Then, just being in nature can help with your mental health or even spiritual health. I will talk a bit more about all these things, but first I’m going to talk about nature’s impact on my own health.
I have always been drawn to nature, but it took me 30+ years to realize how much I need it to feel grounded and balanced. I was a bit in denial. It is also a bit hard to leave everything and everyone you know and move across the U.S. to a place where you know no one. Second, I wanted to find the perfect place to move to that felt right. Anyway, I did move and I think I’m in just the right place. I moved some place warmer that has a very short winter and is one of the best places for nature enthusiasts.
When everything turns gray and it is cold outside, I have a hard time not being slightly depressed. Taking special supplements for seasonal depression helped me in some ways but not all ways. This is because it wasn’t just about not getting enough sun for me I wanted to be out in nature. Being outside makes me happier. Nature has a calming effect on me. I feel mentally sharper, I feel balanced, and it is just good for my soul. After having a stressful day or going through tough battles with chronic pain, seeing mountains, waterfalls, gorgeous lakes, or just walking through the woods makes me feel like everything is going to be okay.
The cold winter months also cause me to eat unhealthier, and be less active even with a gym membership. As you can imagine, this isn’t great for my health and certainly doesn’t help my chronic illness. For some people being out in nature makes it easier to get exercise. If you don’t like going to the gym or can’t even join a gym because of your health issues, then it is important to find an outdoor activity that you enjoy.
Nature may not have as profound effects for you, it is different for everyone. You might have a different go-to thing for feeling more balanced and calmer. But studies have shown nature has positive effects on everyone’s health! It should definitely be part of your wellness lifestyle.
I love to hike, bike, swim, and kayak, but being in nature for you could just mean a walk in the park, a picnic, gardening, sitting outside reading, or building a snowman (if you are a winter person).
Here are some of the many benefits of nature:
Many Studies have found lots of physical benefits, as well.
Physical Benefits Include
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin. The vitamin D from the sun helps improve your mood, strengthen bones, improve sleep, boost the immune system, and more.
Are you familiar with grounding (also called Earthing)? It is just simply walking barefoot in the grass, dirt, sand, or whatever ground you have. The earth has a negative charge. Therefore, direct contact with the Earth evens out the positive charge that builds up in the human body, neutralizing the internal bioelectrical environment (Chamberlain, 2020). These electrons also offset creative oxygen – free radicals – involved in the body’s immune and inflammatory responses (Chamberlain, 2020).
Grounding is supposed to help with sleep, immune system function, decrease pain, reduce inflammation, and decrease the stress response.
Can you get nature benefits without going outside? Yes!
If you are unable to get out in nature because you have too much pain and are stuck in bed or something else, even viewing pictures of nature or having plants in your surroundings can help improve your mood. Plants come with many benefits. You can look for plants that are not just pretty but are also great for cleaning the air in your home.
Another thing to consider is nature videos. There are some great videos on YouTube that play relaxing music with images of nature scenes from all over the world. I stumbled across some of these awesome videos because they would automatically play after some yoga videos I watched.
Another way you could bring some nature into your home is by purchasing a small waterfall decoration. I have a small one I keep in my kitchen and I love to listen to it throughout the day. I also have a huge one that I put outside and look at and listen to while sitting on my outdoor swing.
Another thing I’ve heard, if you have some natural wood or something else from nature and you touch it when you are feeling stressed, it may have some calming effects. Lastly, even if it is cold out consider opening up the windows throughout your home for just 30 minutes to let some fresh air in and remove the stale air.
Be aware that your environment is always impacting you for better or for worse. Being in dark spaces, being surrounded by clutter, dirty spaces, lack of time outside, lack of sun, the people around you, etc., impact your mood. Your environment can cause stress, anxiety, and depression.
One thing I noticed about my environment after many years was there wasn’t enough light in my living room no matter how many lamps I had. With it getting dark quicker in the Winter months, I found I needed more light in my home. So my husband installed canned lights in our living room and it made a huge difference.
Consider how the spaces around you make you feel. Maybe you need a brighter shade of paint, some plants, some nature paintings, or even a fountain.
Chamberlain, Claire. (2020, Aug 17). Netdoctor/What is grounding? The health benefits and evidence behind earthing. Retrieved from: https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-living/a33616520/grounding/