The best medicine in the world is beautiful, powerful and absolutely free. And it's found in the heart of nature.
Ever felt a soothing sensation by the beach, when the waves touch your feet and retreat? Or a rush of joyfulness when you're having a picnic with your family at the park? Nature has a way of uplifting your mood and improving your wellbeing. And there is science to back it up.
This doesn't mean that you have to leave your city life, drop your work and run off to the mountains. Even simple things like going to feed ducks at a pond, appreciating the sunrays flooding through your window, or shifting your work desk to get a good view of the outdoors will do the trick, according to the University of British Columbia (UBC).
“This wasn’t about spending hours outdoors or going for long walks in the wilderness. This is about the tree at a bus stop in the middle of a city and the positive effect that one tree can have on people,” said Holli-Anne Passmore, a Ph.D. psychology student at UBC’s Okanagan campus who published the study on the importance of appreciating things in your natural environment.
Here are some of the reasons why being in nature can be good for you.
Going for a run, hiking over the weekend, sitting in your backyard early morning and listening to birds chirping, can all lower your blood pressure and reduce the level of cortisol (stress inducer) in your body, suggests research. “Nature can be beneficial for mental health,” said Irina Wen, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and clinical director of the Steven A. Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Medical Center, according to NBC's Better. “It reduces cognitive fatigue and stress and can be helpful with depression and anxiety.”
A routine dose of nature not only keeps your mind happy but also affects your overall health as well. Getting a bit of sunshine every day will give your body the amount of vitamin D it needs. Vitamin D activates your immune system, according to a study on National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). And thus, your body is better able to fight off infections and diseases.
Nature is so welcoming, it feels like it's opening its arms wide for you, inviting you in to have your own adventures. When you take a breath of fresh air at these places, it's almost like you're breathing in that warmth and becoming more open-hearted yourself. A study published on ScienceDirect found that nature has a way of making you feel kinder, be more generous, and more trusting of others. Having more nature in your life can improve your prosociality and help you make stronger connections with people.
Recovering and healing can also get a boost through nature. One particular study found that patients who were in rooms with a view of natural scenery had shorter hospital stays than others. Family's support and a positive mindset are important, but a bit of nature speeds up the recovery even more.
If you're having trouble sleeping, the best and simplest thing you can do is start building a relationship with nature. Getting enough sun, letting the ocean breeze soothe your mind, or taking a walk in the park regularly could be the secret to having a healthy sleep cycle. Positive natural environments and green spaces can have a direct and indirect impact on your sleep hygiene, according to Sleep.org by the National Sleep Foundation.
When you feel like you're in a rut at work or you're not able to think with a fresh mind anymore, add a bit of nature to your life. After just 4 days of being exposed to nature, you might even notice a 50 percent increase in your performance, as suggested by the results of a study.
Sometimes you run to the doctor, or your medicine cabinet, or google all the remedies for the things you're feeling or experiencing. But sometimes, the answer is right in your garden, in your neighborhood park or even that tiny birdnest sitting in the tree by your front porch. Take a moment to love and appreciate all the beautiful, small, natural things around you and it will love and appreciate you back.