Article written by Jody Dickson
More than a few people have shared with me recently how grateful they are for the natural environment where we live and how restorative being outside is. Even my 12-year-old son said how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place. I’ve been reading about all the benefits of spending time outside to our well-being, and they are numerous! While I’m likely preaching to the choir to this audience, I thought I would share what I learned just as a good reminder and motivator to appreciate the natural environments around us!
- Spending time outside is good for your health. Studies have shown spending time in the forest strengthens our immunity and disease-fighting cells. It has been shown that it lower blood pressure.
- Being outside improves mood, reduces feelings of anxiety and stress. It can even boost self-esteem.
- Taking a deep breath in the great outdoors can be revitalizing, helping us have more energy and increasing alertness. Some say that 20 minutes outside can wake you up just as much as one cup of coffee can.
- Meanwhile, it can also improve the quality of our sleep which benefits us in many ways in and of itself.
- There are many brain benefits to spending time outside. It boosts creativity, improves concentration, sharpens focus (increasing productivity), and it improves both short and long-term memory.
- Looking at the color green can make exercise feel easier which can make us more eager to return for a future workout.
- Children who spend time outdoors develop their connection to nature and are more likely to engage in pro-environmental behavior. This teaches responsibility and builds confidence… not to mention all the great memories it will create.
I read about a theory that we respond positively to things that are good for us. If we think about it, trees can be a source of food, protection and comfort. The idea that we like things that are inherently good for us and our survival could be why natural elements can help lift our moods.
So go to the forest, soak it in and fully experience the surroundings. The Japanese have a practice they call “forest bathing.” It involves walking in a natural environment, but slowly and aimlessly. It isn’t about the exercise. In fact, it can also be done lying on the ground. The point is to be slow and quiet enough to savor the sounds, smells and sights of nature and let the forest in. To take it one step further, try grounding or earthing, where you go barefoot and directly connect with the surface of the Earth. When we open our senses to the experience of being in a natural environment, we create a bridge between us and the natural world and experience that connection we have with all life on Earth.
Ideally, choose a place with minimal noise and distractions. However, if a full forest isn’t available, even a single tree or a patch of grass can work. We can experience all of the benefits even when the weather isn’t good.
As you can see, nature benefits our well-being in many ways, so take advantage of the beautiful place we live by spending some time outside in it.
Calendar of Events:
July 14 – Saws & Slaws
Aug 2nd – TEG Board Meeting
Visit our Facebook page at fb.com/tegcolorado
Why should you become a member of TEG? When you become a member, you have an instant platform for your local environmental priorities and plenty of opportunity to join us with our current priorities including stopping the Gross expansion, forest health, and RiverWatch.
Click here to learn more about how you can help.