MOST of us spend our days inside in environments devoid of natural influence.
Combined with the rapid rise of technology in our everyday lives, from computers and TV’s to ipads and smart phones, more and more people have limited time, access, and desire to experience the natural world.
If you’re like many people, you spend a large part of your life on your computer, watching TV, and skimming or checking your smart phone, driving in your car, and sitting at your desk looking at a screen. You rarely get out into nature.
And while you may realize that this isn’t healthy, you simply don’t have the time or energy to make a change, and besides, it’s important to be “connected.” Note that our natural surroundings are full of beauty, medicines, shelter, sustenance, resources and spiritual renewal.
Being in balance with nature inspires us to walk gently on this earth, and live in harmony with the seasons and rhythms of our planet. Our body also has the natural ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. This internal healing is supported by our connection with nature so being in nature restores us, calms us, and gives us a new perspective in life.
Science and popular culture may soon be starting to appreciate something that you have likely known for a long time, which is; being in nature benefits the human body, mind, and spirit.
It comes as no surprise to hear that being outside in the woods, surrounded by living, breathing plants, birds, and animals, can decrease your stress levels, improve your mood and fight depression, improve your memory, as well as improving your general sense of well-being.
Many of us lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle but don’t realize just how nature-deprived we really are. Studies have shown that screen time is associated with increased fatigue, depression, anxiety and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) in children.
People who live closer to green space have fewer health complaints and live longer since the green space itself is a stress buffer which helps people cope better with life’s adversity. Studies have found that invisible chemicals (called phytoncides) in some trees can reduce stress hormones, lower anxiety, and improve blood pressure and immunity.
As you know, being outdoors provides you with the benefits of getting natural sunlight, giving you much needed vitamin D and natural stabilization of melatonin levels, which are offset when you spend a lot of time with the screen.
Useful tips on how we can bring more nature into our lives include; Taking 20 minutes a day to spend time in nature by hiking, walking, gardening, sitting, or meditating.
Without you knowing it, you will get exposure to unseen elements that will positively affect your brain and body, like negative ions that improve your immune system and relax your body as opposed to positive ions that are emitted from electronics that can wreak havoc on your system.
Spending time in nature, by engaging all your senses, observing your surroundings without judgment, and appreciating everything around you will bring your body and mind into a state of calm. Another useful tip is putting a plant in your office or wherever you spend a lot of time.
Studies show that a plant in a room can improve cognition, energy, and can even decrease pain. If possible, try to spend the majority of your time when in your home or office in the room that provides you with views of greenery.
If this is not possible, you can hang photos of nature and add a photo of nature that you love as a screen saver on your computer or smartphone. Note that getting away, relaxing, and spending time in nature meditating, eating healthy and sleeping deeply is sure to make you feel rested, renewed, and back on track.
Meditation retreats are moderately to largely effective in reducing anxiety, depression, and stress and improving quality of life. Think about bringing nature into your body, especially if you can’t get out into nature on a regular basis.
Eat foods that are naturally available on this earth and shop in the outside perimeters of the grocery store, buying vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, lean and hormone-free protein, and wholesome grains. Even better, plant your own vegetables if you can since you will get the combined benefits of eating healthy, spending time in nature, and getting some exercise.
Bring green to your fitness routine since when you exercise outdoors, you get the benefits of being in nature like any other time and you also get the benefits of being able to enjoy the process a little more.
For instance, jogging through the woods results in faster 1,800-meter completion times and, in the psychological realm, more satisfaction, more enjoyment, and less frustration when compared to the open laps. Jogging in the open is associated with less fatigue, diminished anxious thoughts, less hostility, more positive mental thoughts, and an overall feeling of invigoration.
Lastly, Plan your life around nature. As I mentioned earlier, the closer you live to some greenery, the better your health and the lower your stress. Green space can include neighbourhood parks, gardens, or even just grassy areas, so you don’t have to drive to a nearby forest or mountaintop.
Research your own neighbourhood and find where the parks are and spend some time there or start your own garden. Perhaps as we realize the human health benefits of nature, support for the permanent conservation of places to provide access to nature will grow as well.
Revisit your special places in nature or find new ones but whatever it may be, take a step out of your daily routine and say hello to nature again!
● The Author, Racheal Masibo, is an Assistant Lecturer at St John’s University of Tanzania (SJUT)-School of Nursing, P.O BOX 47 Dodoma Tanzania. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 0717513598