THE AMAZING HEALTH BENEFITS OF SPENDING TIME IN NATUREJul 18, 2018
Many people spend workdays indoors under fluorescent lights and in front of computers. Then they return home to bask in the glow of television screens and smartphones.
From my own experience and the latest research, making time to go outside and enjoy the natural world can be one of the most beneficial things for your mental health, physical health, and happiness.
Keep reading to find out how you can start reaping the benefits this weekend.
I recently returned from a road trip to Western North Carolina to escape the hustle and bustle of living in the metropolitan city of Miami.
My goal was to immerse myself in nature as much as possible for the entire time I was there and report back on the benefits of my experiment.
I’m not an experienced camper, so I was not totally engulfed in it. But the house I stayed in was surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains with the beautiful forest steps away from my front door.
As much as I try to “escape from the city” in Miami by trying to spend time on the water and various parks and nature preserves, it just wasn’t the same as being completely surrounded by trees and mountains for as far as the eye could see.
The smell and energy coming from the trees was truly invigorating and grounding. In fact, did you know that “forest bathing” or “shinrin-yoku” is a practice used in eastern medicine, specifically Japan, to treat multiple health issues from anxiety and depression to chronic pain.
The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the sounds of nature all around you with the leaves rustling as the sunlight glimmers through the trees can ease our stress and worry, help us to relax and think more clearly.
Being in nature can restore our mood, give us energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.
In an effort to recreate what I’ve read in forest bathing experiments, I decided to take a trip to some nearby rivers and waterfalls to explore different scenes and sounds.
I immersed myself in cold mountain water almost every day to enhance my experience as well as to reap the benefits of cold water exposure.
After spending nearly 8 days in the elements, I noticed that many things improve from a psychological and physiological perspective. I want to share them with you to inspire you to go on your own nature adventure.
Living close to nature brought me closer to balance and gave me insight into some of my habits back in Miami.
Here’s what I mean…
I realized that I eat way more food than I actually need, even though its good food. And I realized that most of my negative eating habits are stress/ mental/ emotional related. It’s my way of self-medicating. I’m stressed so I eat to make myself feel better.
The problem is that this “strategy” doesn’t work at all. Sure, it makes you feel good at the moment to enjoy the taste of delicious food. But if you do this enough, you’ll find yourself overweight, unhealthy, and with higher levels of inflammation.
That’s why managing your stress is so important to weight loss. If you don’t, you’ll simply eat more.
Stress causes cortisol to be released and this makes you crave food.
That’s great if you’re being chased by a tiger and you really need the energy to run for your life. And either you run away and live or you end up as that tiger’s dinner and game over.
But modern life is an animal we can never outrun.
I realized this during my time there. I also noticed that my need and want for food was much less compared to when I’m in Miami going about my normal daily routine.
So if you find yourself out of balance and so far to one side of the scale in regards to stress, or if you’re trying to lose weight and the scale isn’t moving in the direction you want it, try a nature immersion experience and see how it can positively affect your health.
And if you can’t find the time for such an experiment try and find a park, beach, lake or local preserve and schedule more trips to those areas to discover your happy place and bath in the surroundings.
You will be amazed at the positive effects you feel just from separating yourself from the non-stop craziness of modern life. It just takes a little preparation and scheduling but your health is worth it.
- Joe DiBernardo, a.k.a. Primal Joe
Primal Health Coach
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