Nature’s healing effects on your mind and body (guest post)

John Mark Arnold via Unsplash

Today’s guest post is by freelance writer Cloe Matheson, a huge nature fan based in New Zealand. When she isn’t hard at work or waking at some ridiculous hour with a brainwave and scrambling to find her notebook, Cloe loves taking short walks outside. She finds even just a few minutes absorbing the beauty of nature truly boosts her creativity. See more of Cloe’s work on Tumblr. She writes about spending more time in nature. 

The beauty and serenity of the natural world have been shown to be an ideal healing environment for the mind, body and soul. Spending more time connected to nature can lead to a much healthier and happier life.

Improved Cognitive Functions

If you spend most of your waking hours rushing from one project to another, spending time in nature can help to restore your attention span. One reason for this is because being in nature usually doesn’t require high levels of focus and concentration, as opposed to busy urban and indoor environments that demand your full attention.

Immersing yourself in nature is a great way to give your brain a much-needed break from over-stimulation and mental fatigue. Relaxing outdoors allows your brain to replenish and regain focus, which increases your concentration levels and ability to perform cognitive tasks. More time spent in nature can ultimately sharpen your thinking and boost your creativity.

Better Mental Health

Your physical environment can have a significant impact on your emotional state. Natural ‘green’environments have been shown to be most effective for increasing feelings of happiness. Exposure to nature can immediately improve your emotional health, reducing stress, tension, anger and fear.

Spending more time in nature can help to ease serious mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, especially when exercise is involved. While any form of physical activity is important for mental health, exercising in nature has its own unique benefits.

The combination of exercise and nature’s mood-boosting effects can help to fill the mind with positive thoughts and increase self-esteem.

Pxhere under CC0 Public Domain License
Pxhere under CC0 Public Domain License

Healing Effects on the Body

Nature has the power to heal the body in various ways. The great outdoors provides space for a healthy,active lifestyle. More time spent in nature can reduce blood pressure, increase your energy levels, and improve your overall physical health – all contributing to a better night’s sleep.

Time in nature can also help to reduce body inflammation. Although inflammation is a natural reaction to injury or sickness, the problem can become chronic when mixed with negative thoughts and an unhealthy lifestyle. Getting out in nature is one way to avoid this toxic combination and keep the inflammation in check.

Physical Benefits of Going Barefoot

The physical benefits of being in nature are even greater when you go barefoot. Walking barefoot outdoors allows you to stretch and strengthen your calves, ankles and feet more effectively than walking with shoes, and also helps to reduce the risk of knee strain, back problems and other injuries. Going barefoot helps improve immunity and helps growing children in particular to develop strong feet and good physical health. Walking barefoot also helps to improve balance, which is crucial for seniors who can’t risk a bad fall or injury.

When feeling the ground directly with your feet, you wake the vestibular system (balance system) of the brain -stimulating new neural connections and remapping your mind for greater balance.

How to Connect with Nature

Even if you don’t live in a rural setting, you can still find ways to get into nature. Whenever possible, take a walk in the nearest park and absorb the sights and smells of the surrounding flowers and greenery. On the weekends, venture out to any green spaces or beaches you can find outside the city. At home, spend more time in your garden, and hang pictures of beautiful natural landscapes inside your house.

Taking the time to reconnect with nature in everyday life will help you feel better inside and out.

Cloe Matheson

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