Nature has a profound impact on our brains and behaviors.
This is not rocket science. Just one short walk in a deep forest or swimming in the waves of the ocean reminds us of its power.
Yet, most people today don’t spend enough time outdoors. Instead, we view nature through photos on our phones or computers. We long to reconnect with our true essence, fantasizing about our next vacation, where we’ll go somewhere exotic just to be outdoors.
So why don’t we spend more time in nature? Excuses like “I don’t have enough time,” or “It’s too cold/hot (fill in the blank)” tend to pop up. But if we realized the true cost of NOT spending time outdoors we may transform those excuses into action.
Scientists are finding evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and behaviors. It helps us reduce anxiety and stress as well as increase our attention capacity, creativity, and ability to connect with others.
Researchers are observing changes in the brain and the body that suggest we are physically and mentally healthier when we are interacting with nature.
In 2015 Gregory Bratman and his colleagues from Stanford University randomly assigned 60 participants to a 50-minute walk in either nature or an urban setting. Before and after the walk, the participants were assessed on their emotional state and on cognitive measures, such as how well they could perform tasks requiring short-term memory.
Results showed that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety and rumination (focused attention on negative aspects of oneself) as well as more positive emotions compared to the urban walkers. They also improved their performance on the memory tasks.
Spending more time in nature is not only good for our emotional and spiritual health, but it is also food for our brain.
Commit to spending at least 15 minutes in nature each day and notice how it changes your well-being. Who knows, maybe it will activate your inner rocket scientist!
What is your favorite nature activity? How can you spend more time doing that? What one change do you need to make to create more time to be in nature?