May 12

Nature Heals

Nature is a healing gift that we sometimes overlook.  When life gets out of control we’re inclined to withdraw, certainly from people and situations but in some cases we can actually begin to physically confine ourselves.  It might take a while before you’re ready to face the person or the situation but don’t wait to go outside and experience the day…

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  ~ Albert Einstein

There has been much psychological research validating the idea that spending time in nature enhances mental health.   The benefits of spending some time outdoors are both immediate and lasting.  The immediate payoff is mostly related to relaxation and stress reduction that contributes to lasting effects of peace and mental clarity. Just getting out into the sunlight has both physical and mental advantages. Nature really can be medicine for the body and soul.

One advantage of outdoor activity during the day comes from the sun’s ability to increase the production of vitamin D.  There have been many studies recently that confirm the link between depression and vitamin D deficiency.  Another big physical plus comes from breathing fresh air and the tendency to combine enjoying nature with physical activity.  Just being outdoors encourages us to breathe a little deeper and get moving.  Both exercise and deep breathing decrease mental fatigue and foster general wellness.

The natural world makes people feel more connected to life, promotes clarity and reduces negative thought.  There is a feeling of well being that seems to come automatically from experiencing nature.  You don’t have to spend a week in a Hawaii to reconnect and get grounded.  Start by stepping into your own back yard or sitting on a park bench.  Take off your shoes and feel the grass under your feet, look up at the sky, literally smell the flowers.  Getting in touch with nature increases coherence, a sense of wholeness and meaning that comes from realizing that we are a part of something bigger.

In this bigger space we are much more receptive to positive energy and for many time spent in nature is a spiritual experience.  In his paper on the Psychological Benefits of Nature Experiences John Davis, Ph.D. explains, “Peak experiences (Maslow) are defined as experiences of optimal mental health, comparable to intense spiritual experiences or mystical experiences. Nature is a common trigger for peak experiences. Survey results on frequency and triggers for peak experiences (Davis, Lockwood, & Wright) show that nature is the most common trigger for peak experiences.  82% of the general population have ‘experienced the beauty of nature in a deeply moving way,’ 49% felt this had a lasting influence.”

Recovery is a time for healing, for remembering what is good in life.  Enjoying the beauty of the world around you can change the way you feel right now, it can change the way you’ll feel tomorrow and the next day.   So don’t wait to connect with the many healing gifts that nature has to offer.

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