Tired of reading about ways to help the planet? Here’s how the planet can help you!
By Emily Watson
Happy Earth Day, earthlings! Whether you live in an urban jungle, a self-supporting hut in the woods or anywhere in between, I’m sure you’ve heard that spending time with nature is good for you. Well, you heard correctly. Our planet is a healing, stress-relieving, health-promoting miracle.
But what exactly is it about nature that makes it so important for our health? Let’s take a closer look.
1. It heals. Studies show that spending time outdoors lowers blood pressure, releases physical tension and inhibits the production of stress hormones. If that’s not enough to make you drop your phone and head outside, nature also boosts your immune system. Plants (which are obviously abundant in nature) contain compounds called phytoncides which have antibacterial and antifungal properties that strengthen immunity. Not a fan of the great outdoors? Decorate your house with some greenery.
2. It makes you happy. Ever heard of vitamin D? This important nutrient aids in combatting symptoms associated with low mood and depression… and you can get it from the sunshine! Your body absorbs the sun’s rays and converts it to vitamin D, so simply spending time outside will provide a pick-me-up. On another note, nature instills a sense of calm, balance and vitality in the mind – and who couldn’t use a little of that?
3. It keeps you active. Typically, being outdoors means participating in some form of exercise. Whether you’re engaging in an intense rugby game or a leisurely stroll, outdoor activities produce endorphins – neurotransmitters in the brain that increase happiness and mental clarity.
4. It improves concentration. Feeling scattered? Take a walk! Our brains are constantly being stimulated by bright screens, synthetic lights and a thousand different tasks at once. Heading outdoors literally gives your brain space, increasing attention span and even alleviating symptoms associated with ADHD.
5. It decreases stress. There’s no denying that nature instills a sense of serenity in us – and there’s actually a scientific reason for this. Being in nature promotes deeper breathing of quality oxygen – better than the stuffy air typically found indoors – which stimulates your body’s parasympathetic nervous system. This releases stress and, ultimately, calms us down. This form of “better” breathing also helps balance your serotonin levels, which regulates mood and emotions, and creates a sense of well-being.
So stop what you’re doing and head outside to reap the many benefits nature has to offer! And, hey, why not pick up some garbage while you’re out there?
Emily Watson is a freelance writer and certified yoga and medical Qi Gong instructor. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and has been writing – creatively and otherwise – for ten years. Off the mat and away from the keyboard, Emily can be found hiking, camping and traveling with her wife and fur babies. She currently lives and works for a publishing company in Peterborough, Ontario.