Lovers of the outdoors already know the power of nature in promoting relaxation, harmony, and inner peace. It really comes as no surprise to most of us that being outside connecting with nature is uplifting, energizing, and de-stressing. What you might not realize, however, is that science is backing up what we already know; the great outdoors has the capacity to ‘fix,” or at least improve, much of what ails us!
Getting a good dose of “green” has the power to help us feel better and be healthier. The
benefits of nature on overall health have been documented in studies on both physical health and mental wellness. Spending time in nature, especially forest areas, can positively affect our blood pressure, immune systems, energy levels. stress, and mood. Simply looking at trees can be a mood booster (New York Department of Environmental Conservation), and living and spending vacations in the great outdoors can be a plus for health (Fortune, 2015). Surprisingly, one need not spend lengthy amounts of time in the outdoors to reap benefits. Research has shown that just a few minutes in green environments can be beneficial to our well-being. (Environmental Science & Technology, 2010).
The term “forest bathing” developed out of several years of research from Japan on the health benefits of being in nature, green environments, and forest areas. It essentially means walking in nature and allowing one’s senses to be awakened and invigorated. Are you aware of feeling happier, more joyful, and alive when you’re recreating, exercising, sightseeing, or just sitting in nature, as opposed to indoor venues, allowing the outdoors to infuse your senses? Psychology Today (2014) shared the results of a series of studies published in Environment and Behavior (2014), which looked at the relationship between connection to nature and perceptions of happiness. “Nature-relatedness” was the term used by the researchers to describe this special relationship, defined as one’s connection to nature on an emotional level. They discovered that this connection to nature offered something unique, going beyond more general connectedness to life. Nature-relatedness was also a good predictor of one’s happiness.
It’s interesting and refreshing to know that science has been taking a more robust look at the role of nature in our health, happiness, and well-being. I think most would agree, however, that not a lot of research is warranted to confirm how we feel when we’re taking in a healthy dose of nature in all its glorious splendor.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment- youth/201403/does-nature- make-us- happy
Zelenski, J. M., & Nisbet, E. K. (2014). Happiness and Feeling Connected The Distinct Role of Nature
Relatedness. Environment and Behavior, 46(1), 3-23.
Environ. Sci. Technol., 2010, 44 (10), pp 3947–3955
http://fortune.com/2015/10/30/studies-health- benefits-vacations- parks/
Meet the Author
Marisa McMillian Tomasic, Ph.D., was born and raised in Mount Airy, North Carolina, and is currently a psychologist and freelance writer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the mother of two and loves the beach, the Carolina Tar Heels, and spending time with family.
If you are interested in being a guest author for the Wellness Blog, please contact Diquan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-832-5868