People who love nature and spend a lot of time outside already know the beautiful joys of being outdoors.
But it could be challenging for those who don’t yet have this same connection with nature to see why time outdoors is essential. “The woods are full of annoying bugs and scary animals…” they might exclaim, “It’s boring out there – dirty and nothing to do!”
Maybe another perspective can reframe this view of nature. Instead of seeing “the outdoors” as a distant and unnecessary setting, what if a doctor prescribed “time in nature” as a health recommendation?
A growing body of evidence supports this suggestion. Being in natural environments can profoundly affect your emotional and physical health.
More Than Just Exercise
One obvious benefit of going out into nature is that it stimulates physical activity. A walk in the woods is excellent for cardiovascular fitness.
But it’s more than that – even just sitting in the environment appears to have health benefits.
A recent study surveyed 19,806 people to look for a link between recreational nature contact and self-reported health and well-being. The people who spent at least 2 hours in natural environments over the past week showed a higher physical and mental health rating.
It didn’t seem to matter whether they were hiking long distances or just sitting and enjoying the view. The immersion in nature itself had a positive effect.
Exploring New Experiences
Getting away from distractions and observing nature can give your mind a break from daily life’s constant chatter and stress.
Your thoughts wander through the landscape while you sit, watch, and listen, softly pulled from one fascination to the next: wondering what animal is making that sound, feeling the breeze that moves the trees, observing the dazzling colors of flowers, gazing into the mysterious life-like campfire.
These gentle experiences relax your body and mind and diffuse your stress. And the depth and complexity of nature mean every visit brings encounters with something new.
Growing A New Sense Of Life
Whether you go for a hike in the wilderness, a swim at the beach, or even a casual stroll around your neighborhood park, you relieve a bit of your stress and open yourself up to new experiences.
When you build a weekly routine of restorative exploration, you create a space to grow and share new positive memories. You’ll learn about the plants and animals that hide in plain sight, and you’ll become more familiar and comfortable with the ecosystem you’re a small part of.
Even if you’re sensitive to allergies, you can find times and places that won’t irritate you. Or you might discover that the air quality is actually better than what you’re used to.
Taking an afternoon once a week to explore the beautiful, creative side of nature helps you uncover a wonderful way to cope with anxiety and stress. Through this process, you can discover new positivity, health, and well-being.