For some of us, we grew up going camping. We experienced fresh air, disconnecting from technology, and seeing wildlife. For others, we visited our local parks, rivers, and walking paths. Each place offered special memories, and a reprieve from the daily pressures put upon us. Nature allows us to express ourselves, work on our bodies, connect to the earth, or maybe just meet up with some friends. In this article we will walk through how nature is important to us by reducing stress, offering recreation, and alleviating strains on our mental health.
Benefits of Recreation
Physical exercise will keep the blood flowing, which in turn will increase your creativity. It will help your heart, your mind, and your entire body. Recreation is a great way to support your community, get outdoors, and have fun while doing it. It may not even include exercise – sitting at a park bench to watch the birds will help too.
Recreation in nature includes just about anything you can imagine. Fishing, hunting, and archery are ways to be connected with our food. Hunting our own food increases awareness of where food comes from, the impact on the environment, and pride in being sustainable. Day hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing are all fantastic ways to interact with nature. Other recreation includes overnight adventure trips, such as backpacking, biking or “bikepacking”, canoeing, and kayaking.
Nature on a Budget
Going on a hike is wonderful, no doubt about it. However, not everyone has the money to buy the equipment, or even live near-wilderness. Getting outside isn’t meant to be complicated. You can go to your local park, take a walk to the woods down the road, walk a dog, or go on a bike ride downtown. Buy some inexpensive plants and nature wall hangings to invite the outdoors in, brightening up the home.
If we spend the whole day cooped up in the office or in our homes, it puts a damper on everything. Our brains are still wired to respond to nature. We feel less sluggish outside for a reason! Being in nature calms our nerves when they are frazzled, easing the burden of our day today. If you get stuck in negative thoughts like I do, going on a 90-minute walk has been scientifically proven to reduce them. If all you can manage is 10 minutes, that is a good start. Getting into nature reduces fatigue, increases our desire to be social, makes us feel more connected with the world around us, decreases frustration, and calms us so we make more rational decisions without feeling so overwhelmed.
Lowers Risk of Health Problems
Nature will decrease our stress, but also decrease the likelihood of suffering from physical health conditions. For example, the sun offers Vitamin D, which decreases our susceptibility to conditions such as heart disease, dementia, stroke, diabetes, even cancer.
Another effect of being in nature is better to sleep – have you ever stayed up late on technology, watching TV, or playing video games? If you go outside on an evening walk instead, chances are you will have an easier go of things when it’s time to fall asleep. This will increase the quality of your sleep, as well as the quality of your interactions throughout the week with others.
Many of us struggle with anxiety and depression or know someone who does. Nature tends to make everything better. It doesn’t make our issues go away but it decreases how hard it can be to carry on. Spending time in the park every week shows a proven reduction in anxiety and depression. In addition, people who live near parks or open spaces are less at risk for mental health issues than people who don’t.
When we get outside we can finally focus better, sleep better, and enjoy the beauty in our daily lives. Being in nature improves our mental wellbeing by decreasing our stress levels. It also offers numerous opportunities for recreation. There’s nothing to lose by walking among the trees.