“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
—Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
One of the gifts I was unconsciously a beneficiary of when I was a child was living in the country. For nearly my entire childhood I had twenty acres of creeks, tall sky-ward reaching pines, ponds and wide-open pastures with animals roaming at my fingers tips. Beyond the boundaries of our family’s property stood a mass, one of nature’s grandest edifices – Ruby Peak with her snow-covered top and brilliance looking down upon us each morning. Having the ability to step outside each and everyday was one of the healthiest acts I did each day, but I was ignorant to what I was being gifted.
As many of us do when we begin to grow up and make our way in the world, we are inside a lot: in class, at work. Most of us have to live in quite urban environments where nature is not immediately outside our backdoor. And even if we don’t live in a large city but instead a town in which either the elements do not allow us to be outside or for whatever reason we are not able or encouraged to be outside, the effects begin to gradually take a toll.
Perhaps a toll we don’t even realize, as was the case with me.
One of the common attractions I was truly enamored with in both Paris and London, both expansive, bustling urban centers, was their attention to their outdoor spaces: Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, the Tuileries, Jardin des Luxembourg. A lovely respite I always found when I had the chance to wander through each space often frequently during each of my visits. Perhaps it is the solitude, the quiet and the ever-changing natural beauty that always offers something to gaze at and appreciate, but what I was seeking was ultimately balance. Balance of modern life with real life in many ways. A reminder to myself of what I was pursuing and where I was going and if indeed that was in alignment with what I truly wanted. The time to contemplate, the space to be present with my thoughts without interruption (now don’t get me wrong, I was gleefully delighted when the Parisian firemen ran past me one early morning while I was strolling through the Tuileries) but truly, time with nature provides a separation, a reality check if you will.
And as the image above was captured one Thursday after work, it is the regular “getaway” I have found to be the elixir for a life that begins to burst with more to be appreciative of and a life to adore living. Here are specific benefits we gain when we step outside.
1.Boost Mental Health
Recent studies have proven perhaps what we have already know. A breath of fresh air really can do a great deal for our well-being. Revealed in 2014, a reduction of anxiety, depression and a successful combatant of stress were prevalent in those who stepped outside for a constitutional in nature. And for those who aren’t stressed, yet another study found that being physically active outside thwarts the chances of ever having poor mental health.
2. Revitalize Creativity
Separating ourselves from an industrial or man-made everyday routine has been found to free our mind and unclutter it from the strains that weigh us down when we don’t give it a rest. Helping us be present and resist distraction allows our minds to focus and restart in such a way that we feel refreshed.
3. Improve Perspective
In many ways the workspaces and homes we reside in each day which offer ample technological interaction and influences from media skew our perception of what or how to do things. When we step out into nature we are reminded of the simplicity and patience that is needed for beauty to reveal itself, as well as the ebb and flow of life. As our appreciation is awakened, we are often better able to put our own lives and choices in perspective. (Click here to read about the benefits of a broad perspective.)
4. Age Gracefully
Gardening has been found to help stave off dementia and reduce the chances of stroke. As well, benefits such as stronger bones and fewer aches and pains are more commonly found in those who spend regular time outside. While this might not be a direct causation, the likelihood that those who are outside are being active improves one physicality and overall physical health. But it’s important to note as one study discovered, inflammation within the body decreased in both students and elderly who spent time outdoors thus helping to prevent some form of cancers, autoimmune disorders and other illnesses caused by increased inflammation in the body.
5. Improve Academic Performance
A couple of studies have recently found that students who have regular access to being out in nature perform better on assessments and are more apt to exercise successful critical thinking skills. As well, one study revealed short-term memory was increased as well. Referring back to point #1, if nature is able to calm us down, reduce our stress, it is more likely that anytime we are asked to perform on command to our best abilities we will be in a better state of mind having regular doses of nature which helps us find our sense of tranquility.
6. Improved Physical Health
If you enjoy hiking in which the altitude escalates, your metabolism will be asked to increase naturally. As well, you are using multiple muscles to maintain balance, climb, jump and keep your balance all asking different muscles to work. Not only keeping your body focused but your mind agile as well.
7. Longevity Increases
Combine all of the benefits mentioned above, and the length and overall quality of your life improves.
The technology we love and appreciate that improves the quality of our lives is not something that will subside as we continue into the twenty-first century. But would we want it to necessarily? If examined closely, most likely not. But what is crucial is to understand that without nature we wouldn’t have the technology and the lives we live now. The gifts of nature our immense and to know this is to increase our pleasure quotient. Let me leave you with a few lines from poet Lord Byron’s poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Why Not . . . Take a Walk? (two-part series)
~Why Not . . . Live a Long Happy Life? (three-part series)