There’s something about the smell of fresh air, trees, and dirt; the impact the colors and views of nature have on our eyes; the ways our nervous system recalibrates when it hears the subtle sounds of birds and a breeze passing through leaves. All of it positively affects our mood, stress levels, and perspective and allows us to feel connected to the earth and to the larger experience of being human on this planet
-Ellen Vora, MD holistic psychiatrist and certified yoga instructor
Spending time in nature feels good and research backs it up. Fresh air, open spaces, natural beauty, calming sounds, immersion in the pulsating energies of nature are connected to increased feelings of wellbeing, including life satisfaction, vitality and happiness.130 Days Wild: Development and Evaluation of a Large-Scale Nature Engagement Campaign to Improve Well-Being, Richardson, M., et. al., PLoS One. 2016 Feb 18;11(2):e0149777. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0149777. eCollection 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26890891
Makes sense, especially when you consider, by contrast, how much time we spend indoors. A study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that most Americans spend 93% of the time indoors where the air is often way more polluted than outdoor air.2The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality, EPA,https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/inside-story-guide-indoor-air-quality
In addition to formaldehyde, radon, lead, asbestos and other common, harmful chemicals, studies show that more than half of all buildings — homes and office buildings — are polluted with mold, which is increasingly found to be at the root of persistent health challenges.3Over 50% of U.S. Homes and 85% of Commercial Buildings Have Water Damage and Mold, https://www.moldsafesolutions.com/homes-commercial-buildings-mold/ Getting outside is sounding better all the time!
Spending just a little time in nature has profound health benefits:
- Improved immune function
- Increased natural killer cell (NK) function (anti-cancer)
- Reduced inflammation
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lessened pain
- Improved cardiovascular & respiratory systems
- improved vitality and mood
- Reduced anxiety
- Better attention capacity
- Increased energy
- Faster recovery from illness and surgery
When we get into nature, away from man-made lights, we connect with our primitive rhythms, and our circadian cycles synchronize; that helps our bodies function better. Increased vitamin D from sunlight supports better immune function, increased melatonin production from natural darkness leads to better sleep, and our stress hormone, cortisol follows its natural pattern of rising in the morning and falling at night.4Your Body’s Internal Clock and How It Affects Your Overall Health, Alice G. Walton, MAR 20, 2012, The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/03/your-bodys-internal-clock-and-how-it-affects-your-overall-health/254518/
Triple board-certified MD and gut expert, Zach Bush says,
One of the best things we can do to support our microbiomes is to get outside in diverse environments and just breathe.
You may be wondering how you can connect with primitive, healing rhythms — especially if you live and work in an urban setting.
Simple Strategies Synchronize Circadian Rhythms
As we step away from our devices and embrace nature — whether under a canopy of trees, on a wilderness trail, by a lake, a beach, or a green park, breathe in better air and soak up the invisible energies, we become calmer, rejuvenated and restored, and those are excellent autoimmune healing strategies.
What’s your experience? Do you prioritize time in nature?
Take good care!
Image Credit: Jake Sloop