Nature Does The Trick

It’s hard to imagine the 9 to 5 slog without thinking of staring at a computer, surrounded by windows that don’t open and artificial lights. Many of us spend the majority of our time indoors - between commuting, working and coming home to the TV - reports suggest on average 90% of our time is Indoors.

Before the dawn of artificial light, there was a time when humans could be found working out in the sun, with grass beneath their feet. Today, many of us have all but completely lost this habitual relationship with the outdoors.

So, what are the negative consequences of our less than natural lifestyles? One study found vitamin D deficiency among indoor workers to be as high as 78 per cent, which can lead to long term health problems, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune diseases. Frequent lack of exposure to sunlight can also disrupt our circadian rhythm which acts as our internal “clock,” keeping processes like temperature regulation, sleep patterns and hormones in check.

Our indoor lifestyles are leading us to miss out on the health benefits associated with being in nature. There are many psychological advantages to being a nature lover including reduced depression, reduced anxiety, an Increased desire to be social and greater self-esteem

Research into “grounding,” a term coined to describe direct skin-to-earth contact, yields fascinating results from what is believed to be an exchange of free electrons into the body. Benefits of grounding are reduced inflammation and faster wound healing.

The Japanese culture embraces a practice called shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, which is the practice of spending mindful time amongst trees and fresh, quiet air. It’s gaining popularity in western society as a therapeutic technique given the undeniable positive effects like lowered stress, decreased blood pressure and improved immune response.

So how do we reap these benefits when we spend most of our time in a concrete jungle? You may not be able to forest bathe every day, but you can take advantage of your weekends. Take a drive and find a local nature spot. Bring a friend, a book, or just take yourself. Absorb as many details as you can: the colours, smells, and sounds.

During your work week, go have lunch outside. Most cities are accommodating with grass and tree areas. If you have a backyard at home, that’s prime real estate. Take off your shoes at the end of the day and feel that grass beneath your feet. Or bring some plants to work and set them up around your desk to remind yourself of the world outside.

Interacting with the natural world brings clear benefits to both the body and mind. To make the most of these, incorporate as much time outdoors and greenery into your life, as you can. It might just do the trick to make you feel healthier and more connected.