Last September, I made a move that’s ended up working out quite nicely during the COVID crisis. After spending the bulk of my life in a high-density urban area, I moved to an area of my city rich in green space.
Tall trees line the streets, there are plenty of parks, and a river surrounded by woods meanders through town just a couple of blocks away. I love it, and pretty sure I’m better off for it.
Nature does the body and mind good. There is research to show exposure to nature has the potential to heal, soothe, and restore. Spending just a short amount of time in a subjective nature setting has the potential to relieve stress and improve outlook.
I say “subjective” because nature can mean different things to different people. For some, it could be walking down a tree-lined street or sitting in an urban parkette. You might not even have to leave your home—perhaps a tree in your yard or garden is your escape.
Stress can change how your body works. It alters experiences and feelings while also impacting immune function, metabolism, and your central nervous system.
The environment can play a significant role. If your environment is not relaxing (and one study showed that 2/3 of people prefer a natural setting to destress), it can lead to high blood pressure, immune suppression, and more. A natural environment can reverse that.
Research suggests that spending time in nature can result in lower blood pressure, better physical well-being, and lower cortisol production. Other work suggests simply seeing nature can boost pain tolerance and hasten healing.
One of the most unique aspects of nature is its effect on well-being. This is of particular interest in this time of unrest. One study showed that 95% of respondents said their mood improved and they felt less depressed, while feelings of calm and balanced jumped after spending time outdoors.
With a long weekend on the horizon, it could be worthwhile to spend some time in nature. Pack some snacks, a good book, some walking shoes, and enjoy your surroundings.