How Nature Benefits Us
There are a growing number of studies which show that a connection with nature makes us healthier and happier people. Environments can increase or reduce our stress which in turn affects our wellbeing.
You probably know that already. Expanding on that fundamental idea we can see (and feel!) multiple benefits from simply 'being' in nature.
The Nature Fix
Florence Williams the author of a new book, The Nature Fix, sets out to uncover the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. She writes that as little as 15 minutes in the woods has been shown to reduce test subjects’ levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Increase nature exposure to 45 minutes, and most individuals experience improvements in cognitive performance.
This experience of connection may be explained by studies that used fMRI to measure brain activity. When participants viewed nature scenes, the parts of the brain associated with empathy and love lit up, but when they viewed urban scenes, the parts of the brain associated with fear and anxiety were activated. It appears as though nature inspires feelings that connect us to each other and our environment.
Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.
Research conducted in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.
Get Out (From Behind the Screen)
“Nature deprivation,” a lack of time in the natural world, largely due to hours spent in front of TV or computer screens, has been associated, unsurprisingly, with depression. More unexpected are studies that associate screen time with a loss of empathy and lack of altruism.
So get out of here. Get in touch with Nature.