Can you remember the last time you took a walk in the woods and immersed yourself in the quiet grandeur of nature? For many people, exploring the great outdoors is a rare occurrence, especially for those who live in urban settings. Today, scientists all over the world are discovering the positive benefits that nature can have on the human body and psyche. Here are 5 reasons to unplug from your high-paced, technologically driven lifestyle, and reconnect with the wilderness:
Reduce stress & anxiety
Do you often find yourself feeling stressed and anxious in your daily life? According to scientists at Stanford University, you may be in need of a little forest therapy. Studies have found that participants who spent time in nature had lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and a reduced heart rate compared to those who spent time in an urban setting. Additionally, a study published in 2014 found that individuals who lived within one kilometer of a forest or green environment experienced less anxiety and depression than those who lived further away.
Boost your creativity
It may not come as a surprise to you that scientists have found a positive correlation between creativity and time spent walking through a forest. What exactly explains this phenomenon? Researcher Ruth Ann Atchley believes that the constant stimulation of modern life and urban settings deplete an individual’s mental resources, leaving little time and energy for creativity. In her study she found that novice hikers were 50% more creative after spending 4 days in the wilderness.
Improve mental energy & concentration
Do you ever find yourself feeling mentally exhausted and unable to focus? Research conducted in Edinburgh has found that restorative environments, and in particular nature settings, can help restore mental energy and improve mental fatigue. In fact, it has been found that participant’s mental energy returned simply by looking at nature scenes, while city scenes had no such effect. It has also been found that children with ADHD showed improved concentration after spending just 20 minutes in a park.
Inflammation has been associated with a wide range of medical and health conditions, ranging from depression and cancer to aging and autoimmune disorders. A study conducted in 2012 found that participants who spent time in the great outdoors had lower levels of inflammation than those who passed their time in a city setting. Forest bathing, a practice common in Japan in which individuals spend time in a forest environment, has been found to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
Boost your immune system
If you’re looking for an easy and enjoyable way to prevent the common cold try going for a hike. While scientists can not exactly explain the correlation, it has been found that spending time in green environments has a beneficial effect on the immune system, with benefits lasting up to one month. It has been suggested that phytoncides, a compound plants emit to protect themselves from insects and rotting, may play a role by activating natural killer cells in the immune system. Studies have also found strong associations between access to nature and living a long, healthy life.
The next time you want to do something positive for your mind and your body, consider taking a hiatus from city living and spend a bit of time in nature. If camping is not your style, at Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat you can reconnect with nature in style and comfort in one of our elegant and rustic log-framed safari tents. As you can see, spending a bit of time in the woods can greatly enhance your health and wellbeing, or as Nora Waln once eloquently stated, “Trees give peace to the souls of men.”