How to Reconnect With Nature
Nature is therapeutic, and you have probably experienced what I mean. But sometimes we can get so caught up in the day to day that we forget about its healing power. While the connection between nature and our health is not yet fully understood, it has been documented all the way back to Hippocrates and other historical figures.
Hippocrates acknowledged the importance of air, water, and spending time in nature-based locations for the physical and mental well-being of oneself. Even later into history, many famous figures with illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and migraines, were often sent west to work outside to rope horses on the range.
The prescription was simple – the cure they were in search of was to experience the pleasant rural scenery. I have seen this up close and personal in the experience of a family friend who moved from New York City to a rural community in Iowa. After only two weeks of a new lifestyle and pace, their longtime high blood pressure normalized for the first time in years. They credit it openly to being in a more simple and rural living situation.
Nature has time and time again proven to us the important role it plays in our lives. Nature plays a role on all of our senses, leading to what you might call holistic health.
- SIGHT – Seeing nature is known to reduce anxiety, lessen stress, shorten hospital stays, lower heart rates and increase attentiveness.
- SOUND – People living in big cities can have sound overload and this affects their emotions and behaviors. Time and time again nature has proven its restorative power just simply by relieving stress and allowing the body to slow down. It is not a coincidence that spas, yoga studios, and other relaxing establishments play nature sounds for their ability to relieve stress.
- SMELL – While our smell is the weakest of the senses, it can also suffer from overload. Smell can have a large impact on our mood, behavior, and cognition. Nature smells have always been found to be people’s preferred odor when choosing most products. Pine scented candles, oil diffusers, and having flowers in our homes are great examples of bringing the outdoors inside. We are naturally drawn to nature.
- TASTE – Emotional responses to food have been found to be driven mostly by satisfaction, enjoyment, and desire. Food has even been said to reduce anxiety and other negative emotions. A healthy diet consisting of plants and other outdoor foods of origin can do wonders for the body and the mind.
- TOUCH – If you have ever gardened or gone to the beach, close your eyes and think about how it felt to feel the dirt or sand between your fingers and toes. Does it bring you feelings of pleasure? I know it does for me.
Along these lines, hospitals are starting to have more and more outdoor areas for people to get out and breathe in the fresh air and soak up the sun during their time of healing. Or have you gone to visit a loved one and you saw someone walking a therapy dog with a vest into the building? The benefits of nature and its elements are becoming more and more evident in research and feedback, so hospitals and medical facilities are being more open to natural treatments in addition to pharmaceuticals.
As time progresses, it’s getting harder to deny how important nature is to our biochemistry. As my team in Utah prepares for my March Scenic Viewpoint Retreat, I am reminded of what a life changing experience of being in nature can do for us – both mentally and physically.
When we immerse ourselves fully in a new environment, this is one of the known elements to have a life changing experience. And when you pair that with the power of nature – expect magic. Being a previous wilderness guide and therapeutic leader in the outdoors, I can 100% affirm the power nature has on people’s lives. And on my own.