Benefits of Nature

Uncontrolled joyous leaping....

It very well could be one of the many beneficial side-affects of nature.

However...

We spend most of our days inside - inside school, our home, our job.  We are removed from nature—and it’s not good for us.

According to one article I recently read, “people today spend up to 25 percent less time enjoying nature than people did just 20 years ago.” Why does that matter? Because there are holistic benefits to being in nature that we miss out on by staying indoors.

Often, we’re not aware of the benefits of nature when, in fact, experiencing nature can improve our minds, rejuvenate our bodies, and restore our spirits.

Mentally
Taking a break from the busyness of life to engage with nature, even for a few minutes, can bring big positive effects for our mental stamina and cognitive performance.

Studies have shown people performing memory and attention tests improved their scores by 20 percent after walking through an arboretum, whereas, there was no such benefit from simply walking down a street.  Short breaks with nature, even if simply looking at photos, has a degree of mental benefit.

Long, immersive stretches in nature offer big benefits for our creativity and problem-solving skills. After spending four days in the wild, disconnected from any sort of digital technology, students performed 50 percent better on a problem-solving test.  And the positive mental effects don’t stop at brainy stuff like focus, creativity, and problem-solving. Nature improves our mood, generosity, and a lot more.

Physically
Spending time in nature is a great way to find physical rejuvenation. I always feel relaxed when I’m unplugged and outdoors.

It turns out the reason is that nature is a stress killer, which offers a cascade of other benefits, including:

    Rejuvenated physical energy
    Faster physical recovery
    Reduced anxiety
    Reduced muscle tension
    Decreased stress hormones
    Heightened immunity
    Lower heart rate
    Decreased blood pressure
    Better cholesterol

Many of these benefits rebound to our mental health, of course, forming a virtuous circle.

We can look at these benefits like optional add-ons or upgrades to our lives. But the truth is they’re normative. We’re hardwired to spend time relaxing and resting, especially in natural environments.

Our locked-away, always-on, never-disconnecting way of living robs us of the rejuvenation God intended us to regularly experience.

Spiritually
God created humans in the realm of nature and placed us in a garden. It seems like we were meant to live a substantial portion of our lives outdoors—and it’s a unique place to experience our Creator and seek restoration for our soul.

The Bible says that nature speaks to us of God’s character and His attributes. Spending time in nature gives us a chance to slow down and notice what it’s communicating.

So much of our life is defined by our churning and turning through endless tasks and assignments. We’re so busy, we hardly take time to slow down and notice our hearts, notice God.

A long hike, fishing, wandering through a garden, walking along a stream—these activities let us disconnect from the crazy and get reconnected to our hearts.  Nature is God’s reset button for our minds, bodies, and spirits. If you’re spending all day indoors, you’re missing the restorative power of nature.

You don’t have to start with weeks away from the office or school. You can start with a walk in the park, your neighborhood, or even backyard. This small step will help you realign and feel restored and rejuvenated.

Gary Malone, MA, LMFT-A Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Associate

Veritas Life Adventures- Houston Satellite, Sugarland, Tx

Houston Satellite Director and Licensed Family Counselor