In recent weeks, the weather in our area has been so beautiful that it’s inspired me to spend time outdoors. I’ve always enjoyed being outside, wandering through the trees, listening to the birds, and just being in awe of it all. But I never truly understood why or how it can benefit us, until now.
Last weekend, a friend introduced me to a book called Forest Bathing. Written by Dr. Qing Li, the Chairman of The Japanese Society for Forest Medicine, the book shares the art and science behind the concept of “Forest Bathing”. The purpose of the book is to show us how being in nature can help us find health and happiness.
Here are a few of the benefits of spending time in nature.
11 Wellness Benefits of Being in Nature
Whether you go hiking in the mountains, spend time lounging by a river, or go walking on the beach, making a conscientious effort to spend more time in nature will boost your sense of wellness. The book says, “There is now a wealth of data that proves that shinrin-yoku (the Japanese term for “Forest Bathing”) can:
- Reduce blood pressure
- Lower stress
- Improve cardiovascular and metabolic health
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Improve concentration and memory
- Lift depression
- Improve pain thresholds
- Improve energy
- Boost the immune system
- Increase anti-cancer protein production
- Help you to lose weight
When you connect to nature through all five of your senses, you begin to draw on the vast array of benefits the natural world provides.”
How Nature Can Boost Happiness
The book shares scientific studies that show the correlation between spending time in nature and stress reduction. In addition to breathing fresh air (which improves your body’s natural functions and increases oxygen levels in your brain), being in nature can also “increase energy, decrease anxiety, and bring about a state of relaxation”.
It goes on to state that “walking in nature has also been shown by researchers at Stanford University to help us stop brooding on our problems. The results (of a study) showed that not only does walking in nature alleviate feelings of anxiety and other negative emotions, but it also increases positive thoughts. Nature also has the power to help us solve problems and to break through creative blocks”.
I’ve personally experienced this effect, as I often feel compelled to wander through nature when I’m perplexed about something or seeking inspiration. Often times, when we put ourselves in a peaceful environment, our brain operates differently. It’s like we can finally see the forest for the trees (pun intended).
Ways To Bring Nature Inside
In addition to spending time outside in nature, it’s also beneficial to bring nature inside your home. Even if you live in an urban setting, there are many ways you can bring the outdoors in.
House plants and nature-inspired artwork both create a tranquil home environment. In addition to detoxifying the air in your home, plants are also reported to boost creativity. Since our atmosphere has a powerful subconscious effect on us, it’s wise to choose artwork that inspires us (like a photo of the beach) to help us relax and de-stress.
If you’re looking to de-stress, boost your health and happiness, and experience more creativity and inspiration, take a cue from this book and head outdoors. No matter where or how you spend time outside, notice how you feel as a result of being in nature. For more inspiring ideas, check out the Personal Growth and Fitness sections on I&C.
[Disclosure: Affiliate link included]