Nature and Health: Positive Impacts on Personal Health
Written by: Daniela Miranda
Tired? Anxious? Stressed?
Take a walk. Bathe in the sunshine. Sit on the beach, toes in the sand.
The coronavirus pandemic forced many of us to quarantine in our homes, limiting time out of the house. Sudden and unexpected isolation - the 180 degree flip that every human being has endured - stirred feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, nervousness, and uncertainty. Being confined to the home is taking a toll on mental and physical health for many. However, as the warm summer air pushed across the country, more and more people found ways to spend time outside.
Spending time in nature benefits both mental and physical health. Ecotherapy, a new field in psychology, shows a positive relationship between spending time in nature and mental health. It can improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost physical activity. Likewise, exposure to natural light helps to regulate one’s biological clock to improve sleep patterns.
Research shows that individuals who spend ninety minutes walking in a natural environment, as opposed to an urban one, have lower activity levels in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex brain region regulates learning and memory, as well as decision making, personality, and social behavior. It is said to be active during rumination or the repetitive focus on negative emotions. Under stress, our brain malfunctions, focusing entirely on negative thoughts. However, spending time in nature can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, improving decision making and retention.
How much time is enough time in nature?
There is no secret formula or answer to this question. Simply integrating time outdoors into everyday life can do wonders. Twenty to thirty minutes a few times a week is all you need. Go alone or with a friend. Even with busy schedules, finding a moment to enjoy the benefits of nature is worth taking a breather. For those of you who struggle to carve out time to get outside, we’ve compiled a brief list of ways to spend more time in nature, both inside and outside of the home.
Note: these are general suggestions that are meant to be adapted based on COVID-19 safety protocols in your area.
Ways to Spend Time In Nature:
Bring Nature Inside: Collect rocks and seashells to decorate living space.
Plant vegetables or a garden.
Take a walk along the beach or through the park.
Try yoga by the sea.
Have a picnic.
Go on a litter picking walk.
The outdoors and nature are essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. With that being said, it is especially important that we protect our oceans and conservation land, keep our beaches clean, and combat climate change. Seaside Sustainability advocates and fights to preserve the health of our coastal wetlands through education and community action. We encourage you to explore the resources on our website and get involved in your local community!
Comment below to let us know how you integrated time with nature into your schedule!