by Jenna Milazzo
It is no wonder why spending time in nature makes you feel so great. Is this why it is often recommended to go outside and “clear your mind”? Could nature be the new miracle drug? Japan was onto something when they developed a practice in the early 1980’s called Forest Bathing (aka: Shinrin-Yoku) which advised people to take walks through the forest as it was believed to lower stress. Recently, studies have actually proven that spending time in nature lowers cortisol levels, improves memory and cognitive function, and relaxes the mind.
Environmental Science & Technology studied people who lived in greener areas and found that they experienced better mental health and less mental distress, which is why cities have made it a priority to integrate more parks and greenery. Another study found that participants who walked for 90 minutes through a green park had less activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain which is associated with depression, compared to those who walked along a busy street.
So, you’re probably thinking, “I don’t live near a forest, large lush green trees, a flowing creek, or a private beach, how can I still get the benefits of being in nature? The good news is that you don’t need to take an epic trip to the great outdoors to experience these benefits- studies have shown that something as simple as adding a plant to your room, gazing at trees out a window, or even listening to nature sounds on your phone can still have some of the positive health benefits of being in nature. In fact, hospital patients who had window views of a tree recovered quicker than those who did not.
We spend so much of our life sitting in front of a screen. Even when we are outside in nature, our attention is preoccupied on our phones, scrolling through social media, or taking a photo to enhance our Instagram accounts. Imagine what life would feel like if we all just looked up and spent some time noticing our surroundings a little more. Have you experienced the healing effects of focusing on nature? Tell us about it.
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