Ever been in a bad mood and after half an hour of walking in the park you feel so much better? Or you go outside to pull a few weeds in your garden, and you can easily let go of inner tension or irritation? Do you feel the revitalizing effects after spending a long day outside? – We all know how good Nature makes us feel. Nature calms us. Nature may make us feel grounded. Nature connect us with ourselves. Nature lets us relax and breathe deeper. Nature helps us rejuvenate and heal!
Ever wondered why people have a nature-based screen saver on their computer?
Lots of research has been done confirming that Nature has healing effects: People exposed to nature recover from surgery faster, require fewer medications, and have shorter overall hospital stays. Contact with nature has been found to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, help mitigate disease, and reduce stress levels. Blood pressure, pulse rates, and stress hormone levels have been shown to improve after walks in outdoor environments. Even just looking at rural surroundings makes people recover faster from stress than looking at urban settings.
Why do we just feel better in Nature?
Here is a study from Stanford University that gives some explanation: Two groups of participants walked for 90 minutes, one in a grassland area scattered with oak trees and shrubs, the other along a traffic-heavy four-lane roadway. Before and after, the researchers measured heart and respiration rates, performed brain scans and had participants fill out questionnaires. The researchers found marked changes in the brain, namely decreased neural activity in a certain area of the prefrontal cortex. That particular area is associated with repetitive thinking about ourselves and our lives, negative self-talk or ruminating. This brain activity decreased among participants who walked in Nature versus those who walked in an urban environment. This explains why we feel so much better after a walk in the forest!
Getting into our Senses
I would like to investigate another aspect of being in Nature: When we are walking in a forest or in a park, we open our senses. We see the light sparkling through the leaves, we hear the wind and we listen to the bird. We smell the flowers and the plants. Especially after a rain, the earth and the plants smell wonderfully. Taking it in, breathing deeper … it seems it goes right into our system. When we lie down on the grass on a sunny day, we can feel the Earth underneath us and touch the soft grass with our hands. Being in Nature opens our senses and we are present! When we connect to Nature; we also connect to ourselves. We connect to a whole part in ourselves. We invite our body and mind to settle, calm and heal.
Spiraling towards Better Health
In complimentary therapies, we work on engaging the body to heal itself. When certain parts of the body get into better balance, others follow. It is like an upward spiral. We all know what a downward spiral is like when we get sick. It starts with feeling low energy, then we may get a headache, then a cold may follow. We can turn this spiral around when we take care of ourselves. We may take a Reflexology session, or a hot bath, and we start to feel better. This is the same with more severe physical issues. In Reflexology we work on reversing this spiral towards better health. We can do the same by going into Nature. Just take advantage of the healing energy of Nature. Spend more time outside! Find time to go for walks or work in your garden… Enjoy the beauty of Nature! Connect!
This is a chance!
During this Covid-19 crisis, it seems that more people are going for walks, pottering in their gardens and spending time outside. Maybe it is a natural instinct to connect to Nature, especially in stressful times. For thousands of years, people have been in close contact with Mother Earth. This particular time, as challenging as it is in many ways, may be a good time to be aware of our longing for Nature, connection and well-being!