When you think of nature and your relationship with it most of us tend to think that we have to venture long distances from the city to enjoy and interact with it. If you can go on an outdoor adventure then by all means absolutely go! That's the best and probably most fun way to reconnect but there are also a variety of ways to incorporate nature into your daily lives.
Our relationship with nature spans millions of years. Our ancestors grew to respect nature by understanding that it can hurt or even kill us while also appreciating that it fosters health of body, soul and mind.
Technology has made our lives easier; however, the ease of access and prolonged exposure to gadgetry is leading us away from nature and placing greater importance on watching screens. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against technology, I am using my lovely computer to write this post. I'm just realizing that I don't want to be consumed by it and miss out on the benefits nature can have in our lives.
Research has shown that exposure to nature-based environments is associated with reduced stress hormone (cortisol) levels and lower blood pressure. Have you ever felt a calming sensation when you drive into the mountains or get to a special place in nature? I know I definitely feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Our connection to nature is written in our DNA.
Healers from ancient traditional chinese medicine have long advocated that elements of nature such as plants, trees, mountains and bodies of water are considered to be filled with energy, a force that could be transferred to humans in the promotion of health.
In 1898 physician Frederic S. Thomas linked higher rates of mental health problems with the stresses of modern civilization, which I guess is a no-brainer but medical doctors then began to prescribe nature exposure as a means of reducing stress. At that time this practice was not based on scientific evidence but on intuitive recommendations of the ancient healers.
In the 1900's a thriving industry of mental retreats in nature started to boom. These lasted for quite some time until it was deemed to be pseudo scientific. This gave rise to advancements in anti-anxiety drugs.
There are decades of research showing there are mental health consequences to life in a big city. Again a no-brainer but the risk of depression and anxiety are up to 40% higher than compared with residences in rural settings.
Korean researchers used brain imaging and found that the participants viewing urban scenes compared to nature scenes had a significant increase in the activity of the amygdala. Over activity of the amygdala in the brain is linked to impulsivity and anxiety.
This among many other studies show that the brain is absolutely influenced by nature and we can no longer just go through life not addressing the importance of it.
So are there ways to reconnect? Yes definitely! Here are some ways to do just that.
Practicing Shinrin-yoku (Japanese Concept of forest air bathing)
Having plants in your office and home
Using organic essential oils
Owning a pet (dog or a cat mainly)
Eating whole organic foods
I will go into more detail on these methods in future blog posts.
If you enjoyed the information in this post I highly recommend the book titled "Your Brain on Nature". It is written by a medical doctor and naturopath doctor and I learnt a ton reading it.
What do you do in your life to connect with Nature?
Use the hashtag #myniftynaturefix on your photos or leave a comment below. I would love to know!