Getting back in touch with nature is a great way to relieve yourself of the stress and non-stop madness of the modern world. Just breathing in some fresh air and taking in some beautiful scenery can have such a positive effect on both adults and children. It can totally improve the quality of everyone’s lives.
At the South University, Virginia Beach, there is a Clinical Mental Health Counseling instructor by the name of Dr. Susanne Preston-Josey. She is a great advocate of fresh air and nature, saying that they can be of great benefit to mental health by the process of de-stressing.
She goes on to say that fresh air and sunlight give the most benefit and that the more exposure to natural sunlight that people have, then the less cases of seasonal affective disorder there are. Natural sunlight helps the body to produce vitamin D and this gives a person a natural high and increases their good mood feelings.
Dr. Preston also stated that research shows that increased time spent getting back to nature is associated with less cases of mental illness, especially anxiety and depression and, in fact, increases a person’s self-esteem. Not only this but the effects on physical health are good as well, with a decrease in obesity being one of the major benefits.
She stresses the fact that it is important to partake in outdoor activities as much as possible. Walking in the park or the woods, open air yoga and meditation are all good ways of relaxing and getting fresh air and exercise at the same time.
Some Good Reasons To Get Back To Nature
The Harvard Health Letter of July 2010 gives five reasons as to why it is good to get back to nature.
Firstly, when you are exposed to natural sunlight, the vitamin D levels in your body will increase. The sun upon your skin helps with the production of this vital vitamin.
Research has also shown that vitamin D can help in combating several conditions including heart disease, cancer and depression. So, as long as you don’t overdo the sun exposure, you will be doing your body a lot of good. You can always supplement this with vitamin D3 pills.
Then there is the benefit of regular exercise. It cannot be stressed enough, the importance of this. Even a brisk walk for twenty minutes every day will be beneficial to your health but some sort of aerobic exercise should be in your daily regime.
Thirdly, you will feel a lot happier. Natural sunlight, again, plays an important part in this. It is a well known fact that being under the sun lifts your mood and if you add this to the physical exercise, which also increases the sense of well-being, then you are on a winner!
Fourthly, you will increase your levels of concentration. Another well known fact is that children who suffer from ADHD concentrate better when outdoors, so this probably goes for adults as well.
Last but not least, it is quite probable that you will heal much quicker from certain ailments when you are outside in natural sunlight. This has been proven among people recovering from spinal surgery and even something as simple as a nice view from a hospital window can aid recovery and help prevent depression setting in.
Benefits For Children
An executive assistant at the Children and Nature Network, Robyn Bjornsson, has stated that, nowadays, children spend much less time outside than in previous years. This can be detrimental to children’s health and general well-being, she said.
She also said that it can actually damage a child’s mental and physical health by alienating them from nature, the term for this being ‘nature-deficit disorder’.
According to her, children who play outside and are closer to nature, are much happier, healthier and also achieve better results at school. It also stimulates their creativity and increases self-esteem.
As well as this she states that research shows that being exposed to nature alleviates the symptoms of such things as attention-deficit disorder, stress, obesity, myopia and depression.
Dr. Preston agrees with all of this and said that it is much better for a child to be playing outside rather than stuck in front of a television or computer. Bjornsson also said that it is a great way for the family to spend some quality time together, engaging in such activities as hiking, camping, boating, sailing and so on.
It can be a bit of a challenge to parents to get their children to play outside in this age of computer games and suchlike but it should be a priority. Bjornsson suggests looking for local clubs or organizations that partake in such activities to get the children interested in the first place. All in all, all these aspects prove to be beneficial in this respect.