How Being Immersed in Nature Benefits Your Wellbeing
Our connection with nature has gotten weaker in the past few decades as our lifestyles have become more urban and technology driven.
We are very aware of the threats to the natural environment endangered species, yet we can’t tell the species of local flowers, we aren’t able to distinguish St. John’s wort from chamomile and we don’t know what food we can find in the near forrest and we never lit the fires.
We spend the majority of time within the four walls, offices and shopping and move between these confined spaces in a car. Home – work – shop – home – work … and maybe a fitness center with no windows but many screens. And nature becomes an abstract concept that can be seen on TV.
As a result many people suffer from nature deficit syndrome that leads to fatigue, stress, irritation, decrease in creativity, overall physical and mental imbalance. We need more contact with nature to achieve a balanced and healthy life.
Our urban and industrialized culture has suppressed our innate feeling of being connected with nature, the deep need for being in natural environments and being in contact with animals. All living organisms are connected by a common ancestor, a single-celled microbe that appeared on Earth over 3.5 billion years ago and from which all species have evolved.
The ancient Greeks expressed this deep innate connection with nature through the myth of the giant Antaeus, who drew exceptional powers from contact with his mother Gaia. As long as he felt the Earth under his feet, he was invincible. Hercules, who discovered his secret, lifted Antaeus and held him until the giant lost his strength, and then strangled him. Humans also get weaker when they lose contact with Earth.
Immersion in nature, saturation with “vitamin N” allows us to stay healthy and rejuvenate.
A series of studies conducted by the team of psychologists at the University of Rochester show that contact with nature results in an increase in people’s sense of well-being and vitality. 90 percent of people admitted that spending time actively in the countryside helped them get rid of fatigue.
Researchers at the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter found that people who spent 2 hours a week in green & natural environments were more likely to report psychological well-being than those who don’t.
Other studies show that walking in the woods or parks enhances the immune system, regulates heart rate, blood pressure, and has a positive effect on the nervous system, resulting in a feeling of deep peace, which is associated with lowering the level of stress hormone. 20 minutes of looking at green causes the amount of cortisol in saliva to fall by 13.4 percent, as demonstrated by research by Yoshifumi Miyazaki, University of Chiba.%