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Why Nature is the Best Medicine

Why Nature is the Best Medicine

Getting outside and enjoying nature is proven to be both relaxing and beneficial for our health. Here are five reasons why I try to spend time in nature.

With new developments in technology and smartphones that can do everything for us, people are finding themselves spending significantly less time outdoors. And by people, I mean myself— but I know I’m not alone in this.

Whether we’re falling into a never-ending Netflix binge, playing video games (I don’t do that), or are just stuck in a YouTube time-warp (sometimes this does happen), it has become disturbingly easy to seldom leave the indoors.

Getting outside and enjoying some fresh air is proven to be both relaxing and beneficial for our health. It is important to spend quality time outdoors, away from screens, especially when we are in front of them most of the day. Here are five reasons why I try to make it a point to spend more time with Mother Nature:

Stress and Anxiety Relief

Stress and anxiety are common, all-too-familiar themes amongst most hard-working folks today. So, how can we combat these unpleasant feelings? Maybe we just need to spend more time outside. At least, I know anytime I’m in nature, whether it’s at the beach, on a hike, in a forest (not alone), I feel way more relaxed and chilled out.

In Japan, they found that forest bathing (walking amongst trees) helps people have lower levels of cortisol as well as lower heart rates and blood pressure.

Even a little time outside each day can be beneficial to your health. Try taking a walk outside during your lunch break or set aside time each day to get outside and unwind. That’s literally what I do and it makes a big difference. Even just sitting in the sun for 10 minutes revives me.

Great Source of Vitamin D

We all basically have a deficiency in Vitamin D, if you live in a place that’s not sunny all the time. We can get Vitamin D from the foods we eat, but generally these foods don’t contain nearly enough of the vitamin to meet the recommended amounts. Getting enough Vitamin D is important for your health and the sun is the biggest source of Vitamin D, so spending less time inside and more time outside can help improve your health.

When I was living in Chicago, I took vitamin D in the winter months and I swear it really helped.

Boosts Your Immune System

People often reminisce about the way they always played outside in the dirt as children. Crafting mud pies and trying to feed them to your brother, coming home for dinner as filthy as can be. These same people will also tell you that they rarely ever got sick. However, I may have been an anomoly because I did spend time outdoors and also, did get sick a lot as a kid. But does spending time outside help us avoid getting sick?

Studies have proven that the more time you spend outside, the stronger your immune system will be. Even smells from the outdoors have a positive impact on the body. So, if you feel run down a lot or get sick often, maybe some time outside is the medicine you need. Noted.

Improves Mental Health

The winter months can be difficult. Seasonal affective disorder affects many people and is rooted in spending so much time without natural sunlight. I’ve spent many a long Chicago winter, curled up on the couch wondering whether I’d ever see the sun again.

Sunlight increases the production of endorphins in the brain which helps to boost our mood, but people tend to not go outside as often in winter because of the challenges presented by colder climates, like below zero temperatures and ice everywhere. But being outside, especially all-year-round, helps you feel good about yourself and improves your mental health.

Improves Vision

Keeping your face buried in your laptop or smartphone for hours a day is bad for your eyes. It’s no wonder that spending so much time staring at bright, backlit screens can make our vision seem fuzzy. It’s hard to deny that spending more time outside is probably a welcome retreat for your eyeballs.

Ideas for Getting Outside

Open the front door. Walk out of it.

Just kidding – but seriously, I’m always in search of new places in nature that I can (safely) explore, usually with my dog because she’s nuts and needs to burn her energy.

I’m a big fan of walks and hiking. I will swim in lakes. The ocean is still slightly terrifying to me. Forests are beautiful but not somewhere I go to deep alone.

There are endless options and honestly, most places I travel, all I want to see is the different landscapes – the rivers, mountains, rocks, stuff like that. This world is so beautiful and there’s so much to see – and it’s good for our health to get out there!