Dr. Nicola Finley (Internist)
How Spending Time in Nature Can Improve Your Mental Wellbeing
To heal means to make whole. Nature can heal, and it offers wholeness by involving the mind, body and spirit. However, healing is different than curing. Curing means to treat an illness. Often times, medical professionals concentrate solely on curing and less on healing. While finding a cure is important, the process of healing is also important. Healing can give us an inner sense of peace. Nature provides that as well as so much more. Research shows that interacting with nature reduces stress, depression and anxiety, as well as augments self-esteem and overall mental health.
Here are 3 ways that nature can heal:
Nature can offer a positive distraction. Examples of positive distraction include looking at a natural landscape, participating in an outdoor activity, or hearing nature sounds. These experiences can be especially helpful in reducing pain and overcoming anxiety.
Nature can help focus our attention in a gentle way. This creates a shift from the busyness of our daily lives to a calm environment. Furthermore, it can create the space to reflect in an effortless manner.
Nature promotes relaxation. The relaxation response increases the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces stress. It also lessens the sympathetic nervous system, which is our flight or fight response.
It’s no wonder that many hospitals have gardens for patients to view and explore while in the hospital.
In addition, you may have also noticed that spending time in nature makes your skin feel good. It could be due to the humidity in the air, which may have a positive impact on your skin. For example, a humid day means there’s more moisture in the air. If you are someone who tends to have dry skin, the moisture is hydrating to the skin and helps prevent our skin from drying out.
By interacting with nature, we can heal and flourish. How are you going to connect with nature today?