The Healing Power of Nature For Well-Being

10 Nov ‘23
6 min
Lifestyle
Lisanne Buisman
Reviewed by lifestyle expert Aäron Spapens

In today’s world, the constant stimulation of technology and rush from urban environments means we often find ourselves disconnected from nature. However, scientific research shows that immersing ourselves in natural environments has profound benefits for both our physical and mental well-being. Whether it’s a walk in the park, a hike through the mountains, or simply sitting by a tranquil lake, the healing effects of nature are powerful. 

 

What is the relationship between nature and well-being? And how can you incorporate more nature into your life for a happier, healthier existence? Let’s take a look at this in greater detail below.

 

The connection between nature and physical health

 

1. Nature can encourage physical activity: Whether it’s a leisurely stroll or engaging in outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, or cycling, being in nature motivates us to move our bodies. In fact, a study concluded that physical activity in natural environments is associated with a reduction in the risk of poor mental well-being to a greater extent than physical activity in non-outdoor environments.  Regular physical activity not only helps maintain a healthy weight and cardiovascular fitness but also improves strength, flexibility, and overall physical well-being.

 

2. Nature enhances immune function: Research from Japan’s ‘forest bathing’ practice (simply being in the presence of trees) indicates that exposure to green spaces increases natural killer cell activity and boosts the production of anti-inflammatory proteins, leading to a stronger immune response. Spending time outdoors also exposes us to Vitamin D from sunlight, which is essential for bone health and supports our immune system.

🔎 Interesting Fact:

Forest bathing, or spending time in nature,  has become a vital part of preventative healthcare in Japan. The results of Japanese studies have shown forest bathing improves sleep quality, mood, ability to focus, and stress levels.

3. Nature reduces chronic disease risk: Researchers have found that spending time in green spaces is associated with a decreased likelihood of developing conditions like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes. The combination of physical activity, reduced stress, and cleaner air in natural environments contributes to improved overall health.

 

The connection between nature and mental well-being

 

1. Nature reduces stress and anxiety: Nature provides a natural antidote to the stressors of everyday life.  Spending time in green spaces is linked to reduced cortisol levels, decreased anxiety symptoms, and greater feelings of relaxation. In a nutshell, nature’s soothing effect can restore mental balance and help alleviate the pressures of modern living.

 

2. Nature enhances mood and happiness: Research indicates that being in natural environments can elevate mood, increase feelings of happiness, and reduce symptoms of depression. Overall, the combination of fresh air, natural beauty, and the peacefulness of nature is an effective way to boost your mood.

 

3. Nature boosts cognitive function: Spending time in natural surroundings has been linked to improved concentration, enhanced creativity, and better problem-solving abilities. Nature provides a respite from the constant stimulation of technology and urban environments, allowing our minds to relax and recharge, ultimately leading to increased cognitive performance.

 

How to incorporate more nature into your life

 

Nature makes you feel better. But how do you incorporate it into your everyday life?

 

Schedule regular time outdoors

Make a conscious effort to incorporate nature into your routine. Whether it’s dedicating a specific day for outdoor activities or setting aside a few minutes each day to go for a walk in your local park, pick a realistic goal that will work well with your schedule. 

Embrace outdoor activities that align with your interests. Whether it’s gardening, birdwatching, or playing sports, find activities that connect you with nature and bring you joy.

 

Practice mindfulness in nature

Combine the benefits of nature and mindfulness by practising mindful awareness in natural settings. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, and sensations around you, fostering a deeper connection with the environment and promoting relaxation.

 

🌿 Want to practice mindfulness in nature? Try our Mindfulness classic walking meditation (15 mins): 

 

 

 

The healing power of nature

 

The restorative power of nature offers multiple advantages, ranging from heightened physical activity and enhanced immune function to decreased stress, uplifted mood, and sharpened cognitive abilities.  The best part? Incorporating nature into our daily routines can be effortlessly achieved by strolling through a nearby park or spending quality time in our own backyard. Prioritising our connection with the natural world can pave the way for a healthier and happier way of life.

 

Our blog is backed by extensive research from multiple medical sources, although not all are cited here. The OpenUp editorial team and lifestyle experts have conducted thorough research; please feel free to contact us for more information on the additional references.

The next Live Space - Starts in 2 days
Lifestyle
Nutrition and mental well-being
Tue 16 Apr 14:00 - 15:00 Europe/Madrid
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It is no surprise that our nutrition impacts our mental well-being, mood, and energy levels. After all, we are what we eat! OpenUp dietitian and lifestyle expert Roos London will dive into nutrition and mental well-being in this interactive group session.

In this session, you will gain awareness about your relationship to food, eating behaviour and practice with intuitive eating exercises.

For this session we ask you to switch your camera and microphone on, because it is interactive and needs your participation.

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