Sometimes as humans, we hit our limit. The stress that’s been building up inside starts to consume us to the point where we shut ourselves off from the rest of the world. When this happens to you, where is the first place you think about going?
If in times of distress you think of walking down quiet dirt pathways, laying out by the ocean, or even just sitting outdoors somewhere secluded, surrounding yourself with the natural world may be your ideal form of healing.
Why? The answer is simple: you’re experiencing a nature connection. Nature is peaceful, pure, and loyal. A natural environment doesn’t expect anything from you, doesn’t require your time, energy, or help; nature just is.
Not having that nagging feeling of needing to do something, be somewhere, or get someone else to where they need to be takes a lot of pressure off of your shoulders, releasing pent-up stress, anger, and feelings of being overwhelmed. The result is stronger relationships, better health, and improved overall well-being.
Why Does Nature Improve Our Overall Well-being?
The idea of a nature connection isn’t new. It’s quite a common experience. Many feel that nature offers powerful healing energy that serves evolutional and personal growth purposes.
You’ve most likely heard of cultures instilling a “rite of passage” in which adolescent participants go to live in the wilderness alone for a certain amount of time, with nature being their guide. The idea is that they learn about themselves out there as they become one with nature. The lesson is that nature offers everything we need to survive, grow, and flourish.
The abundance of cultures that rely on herbs, plants, and natural oils to care for the sick and heal the wounded is further proof of our deep nature connection. Many people feel that burning sage in a room will naturally purify the air from diseases, harmful elements, and bad spirits.
Having these traditions and beliefs gives us a sense of comfort, happiness, and joy, naturally improving our overall well-being.
How Does a Nature Connection Affect You?
Many studies have shown the impact nature can have on mental and physical health. Even though we have taken the power of nature for granted as our lives have become increasingly busy, the energy and benefits of a greater nature connection are still there, waiting to be explored.
Stress-reducing and Mental Clarity
In a society filled with fast-paced living, non-stop running, and working overtime, most people these days are full of more stress and tension than ever before. It’s hard to put down your planner and shut off your devices when you feel overwhelmed. Part of this is because of how disconnected we feel from the rest of the world.
When communication is seconds away, it is easy to feel like you are missing out on something if you don’t check that email or text as soon as your phone rings. The need to be “on” at all times harms your well-being, whether you realize it or not.
This stress and anxiety will eventually lead to health problems and affect your other relationships, essentially creating a domino effect.
In contrast, a nature experience is an opportunity for us to feel freer. If you feel your creativity increasing when you’re walking through the woods or sitting by a stream, it’s no coincidence. Nature connectedness increases our awareness, helps us concentrate, and contributes to our open-mindedness.
Maintaining a nature connection helps increase wellness and clear your head from daily clutter. You’ll be able to see clearer, think more freely, and listen to your own needs.
A deep nature connection doesn’t just positively affect your mental state. It’s also important to prioritize your physical well-being. When you spend more time in nature, your body takes notice. The results are:
- Reduces blood pressure
- Lowers heart rate
- Eliminates muscle tension
- Reduces production of stress hormones
- Improves respiratory function
- Improves sleep
- Provides vitamin D and other essential nutrients
One of the most obvious reasons for this is that, when you’re outside, you’re more inclined to be active. Physical activity improves your mood and keeps you in shape, giving you more energy to do what you love. When you exercise outside, fresh air fills your lungs and nutrient-enriched soil surrounds your feet.
Nature soothes, calms, and heals everyone. Whether we know the exact reason behind it or not, it does.
How Does a Nature Connection Help Your Relationships
Relationships are hard. Whether it’s a romantic relationship, friendship, or family dynamic, it takes effort to maintain positive connections with the ones you love. Unfortunately, many relationships suffer from a lack of communication, misdirected anger, and overwhelming stress.
Building a nature connection can teach you how to strengthen your relationships. Nature teaches you how to slow down, take a breath, and see the situation in a whole new light.
If your relationships are struggling from issues you are dealing with elsewhere, spending time in nature gives you the clarity to see this and find a way to turn it around. Connecting with nature is associated with promoting problem-solving, giving you methods to solve your problems peacefully.
Don’t have time to explore nature connectedness? The good news is that it isn’t just being in nature that makes us happy. Visualization of a natural setting on a poster, picture, or in a movie has similar effects to being in nature, and even writing in and reading a nature journal can bring good memories. As a result, you experience a reduction of anger, sadness, fear, and stress. It also increases feelings of joy.
Here’s another relationship that nature exposure can improve: our connectedness with our children. It used to be an expected part of our daily routines to take our children outdoors for fresh air and exercise, and our childhood nature experiences and engagement help build our environmental attitudes later in life.
Sadly, as generations pass and as we’ve become busier, this routine is no longer the norm. We’ve even started associating the outdoors as a place our kids are prone to get sick, even though they are more likely to encounter more germs cooped up indoors.
The reality is that it’s never too early to build a nature connection within oneself, so it’s a great idea to bond with your child while exploring natural spaces. This can be as simple as carving out 15 minutes a day to go for walks, breathe in fresh air, and watch for wildlife.
Some studies have shown that retirement communities that implement gardening or even just provide green space increase overall happiness, joy, and longevity, showing that just being in nature can help bring people together and promote community.
The Takeaway: How to Build Your Own Nature Connection
Maintaining a connection to nature is a key part of living a well-rounded life with minimal stress. When you feel sad or overwhelmed, take walks, spot wildlife, or do some other nature activity. That’s it, just give it five minutes.
Go outside to a natural setting wherever you feel most comfortable, even if you’re stuck in an urban environment. While you are out there, try not to think about anything. Use your senses to acknowledge the beauty of the natural spaces you may have overlooked before. Breathe in the clean, fresh air so many humans take for granted each day, and listen to nature as it speaks to you.
You will be amazed at how much better you feel with only five minutes of nature and how much nature can teach you about yourself.