My home-office has a view on our garden. I have been enjoying for the past month its transformation: the return of the cardinals and blue jays, the gorgeous redbud trees, the colorful tulips, daffodils and irises, the grass and dandelions growing like crazy, the fabulous green of new leaves.
The radiant energy of Springtime is all around us. The renewal of nature. Life.
We can feel that Nature is a powerful force. It can significantly enhance our mental health and well-being. I have personally experienced this transformation after moving to the Ozarks and making nature a part of my daily routine. As part of my work as a well-being coach, I have studied the positive effects of nature on our health and wellness. I am astonished: it may be our best medicine.
My intention here is clear: inspiring you to spend more time in nature to improve your mental, emotional and physical well-being.
So I am sharing with you ten ways to enhance your well-being in nature.
1. Simply be in nature
The easiest way to benefit from nature is to spend time in a natural environment.
Whether you're in a city park, state park, mountains, forests, countryside, ocean, or your own garden, being in nature has been shown to have a significant positive effect on our well-being.
Even the people who had just a view of nature during the COVID-19 pandemic coped better and reported higher levels of mental well-being.
The benefits of nature on our mental and physical health are supported by numerous neuroscience studies. These positive effects include:
· Reduced stress and anxiety
· Improved focus and clarity
· Increased relaxation
· Better quality of sleep
· Improved mood and positive emotions, such as awe, wonder, and gratitude
· Increased creativity
· Better ability to connect with others
· Enhanced problem-solving abilities
· Improved memory and learning capacities
· Lowered risk of depression
· Boosted immune system
· Improved overall health
To experience these benefits, it's recommended to spend at least two hours per week in nature.
2. Enjoy the morning sun!
Here is a new habit I have embraced: get about 10 to 15 minutes of direct sunlight exposure every morning, upon waking. This practice is the most effective way to improve your mental and physical health, according to neuroscience expert Andrew Huberman. It can help regulate your circadian rhythm, improves your focus during the day, and enhances your sleep.
Sunlight also boosts serotonin, the happiness hormone, and increases your body's vitamin D supply, which is important for bone health.
So, what about enjoying your morning coffee outdoors or going for a short morning walk?
3. Get energized with water
I never thought I would say that, after 13 years living in Miami, but I truly enjoy the invigorating cold water of the Ozark Rivers!
One of the reasons is that cold water is another natural element that can help energize you and boost your health. Swimming in cold water, whether it's a river or ocean, can increase alertness, clarity, and energy levels. It can also release endorphins, which are sometimes called happiness hormones, leading to feelings of well-being and optimism.
Recurrent cold water exposure may also lead to enhanced function of the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest-and-digest” part of the brain, and it stimulates your immune system.
4. Double down on the benefits of exercising
Exercising in natural environments has been shown to have greater benefits for your health than exercising elsewhere.
It combines the benefits of exercise with the restorative effects of being in nature.
It is a bubble bath of good neuro-transmitters for your brain, increasing serotonin levels leading to a more positive mood and decreasing anxiety, and releasing dopamine in your brain, leading to a sense of pleasure and enjoyment. Exercise in nature also reduces cortisol, the stress hormone.
So, whether it's taking a hike, going for a run, biking, kayaking, skiing, practicing yoga, or doing any other form of exercise, try to get outdoors to enjoy the many benefits nature has to offer.
5. Practice Mindfulness
Nature provides a perfect environment to practice mindfulness. We can use all our senses in nature to anchor our mindfulness practice: the sound of a bird, the sight of a sunset, the smell of flowers, the feel of the wind on our skin.
The calming effect of nature on our nervous system promotes relaxation, allowing us to slow down and breathe deeply.
It also allows us to engage in "soft fascination”, a state of mind in which we are able to be absorbed in our surroundings without having to actively process or analyze information. This type of mental engagement allows our brain to rest and recover from the constant stimulation of modern life, enhancing our cognitive functions.
Nature gives us the solitude and quiet space we need to pause and self-reflect, without all the distractions of our modern life.
6. Foster Social Connections
Nature is an ideal place to nurture the social connections we need to thrive. I love the strong sense of camaraderie and connection with others that engaging in activities as hiking, swimming, or camping in nature can create.
Being away from the distractions and interruptions of modern life enables us to be more present and engage in meaningful conversations, which can deepen our relationships. I love these conversations around a campfire at night gazing at the stars!
Moreover, positive emotions like awe, wonder, and gratitude that nature evokes are contagious, and sharing these emotions with others can create a deeper sense of bonding and closeness.
I invite you to consider nature as a venue for your next social gathering with family, friends, or colleagues to fulfill your need for belonging, emotional support, and physical and mental well-being!
7. Rediscover Playfulness
Modern life can make us forget about playfulness and spontaneity, which are essential for our well-being. However, the natural world is full of opportunities for exploration, creativity, and discovery, inspiring a sense of wonder, curiosity, and joy, connecting us to our playful inner child.
Engaging in activities like building a fort in the woods with your kids, zip-lining, or off-grid camping can help us let go of adult responsibilities and reconnect with our sense of playfulness, leading to reduced stress, improved cognitive function, increased creativity, stronger social connections, and overall happiness.
I invite you to set an intention of playfulness next time you go in nature. Allow your inner child to take the lead and have fun!
8. Deepen Spirituality
Nature enables us to focus on our inner selves and connect with the world around us in a more profound way. It provides a sense of peace and tranquility that opens our hearts to a deeper spiritual connection. The interconnectedness and interdependence that nature offers remind us of our place in the world and can inspire a sense of humility and gratitude. This can promote a sense of transcendence and connection with something greater than ourselves, deepening our spirituality and sense of purpose in life.
9. Unleash Creativity
Nature and its beauty can inspire creativity and innovation. Exploring our creative side in nature by writing, drawing, painting, taking photographs (my personal favorite!), or simply observing and appreciating the beauty around us can reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall well-being.
10. Learn from Nature
Keeping learning all our life is an important factor to enhance our well-being. It can promote cognitive and emotional flexibility, and even reduce stress.
You can learn about nature by observing and reflecting on its cycles, patterns, and rhythms. Change is constant in nature. The learning is never ending!
Learning about the flora and fauna in our area and their contribution to the ecosystem can be enlightening. Guided hikes and nature walks provide an excellent opportunity to learn from nature.
In conclusion, spending time in nature and engaging with it in various ways can have a tremendously positive impact on our overall well-being!
And you can get all of these 10 benefits all together in one adventure in nature!
Nature provides a perfect environment for amazing experiences by ourselves or with others, resting or active.
Let us all take advantage of this natural bounty and start reaping its benefits!
I would love to hear from you. Please share in comment how nature is contributing to your well-being and how you can bring more of it in your life.
And If you need support to boost your well-being, if you feel overwhelmed with constant anxiety and stress, I invite you to join my new program, the 21-day well-being challenge.
The next one starts on May the 1st. There will be another one starting on June the 1st.
I will extend to you a special Spring price of $117 (standard price is $277).
And you will not be surprised if I tell you that nature will be part of the challenge.