How to be happier and healthier with nature
We all spend too long on our computers, watching TV, browsing our smartphones, and sitting at our desks looking at screens. We rarely get the chance to go out into nature. Last summer I spent a week in Finland at a nature-connection conference. One of the most spectacular places I have ever visited. Forests, lakes, fresh air, wonderful people, delicious healthy food, access to forest bathing or shinrin-yoku walks as well as wild swimming and lakeside saunas. Immersed in nature for a week was bliss. I came home feeling rejuvenated, energised, calm and full of creative ideas. We also discovered the latest scientific studies about the health benefits associated with nature connection.
January is the perfect time to commit to more nature escapes. Based on the latest nature-connection science, here are my 7 top tips for a happier and healthier 2019:
1. Invest some mindful time in nature.
Invest 20 minutes a day in nature—walking, gardening, sitting, or meditating. You will get exposure to unseen elements that positively affect your brain and body. Essential wood oils called phytoncides can improve our immune system, reduce blood pressure, lift our mood and relax the body. Add a little natural mindfulness and you will quickly bring your body and mind into a relaxing state of calm.
2. Take a plant to work.
Put a plant in your office. Studies show that a plant in a room can improve cognition, energy, and even decrease pain. Studies have found placing a plant in a hospital room decreased the need for pain medication. Here are some Top indoor office plants to help you get started.
3. Find a room with a view.
Studies show that we have more energy and better cognitive abilities at work, when there’s a view of nature. If you haven’t got a view you can always hang photos of nature and add a photo of nature as a screen saver on your computer. Surprisingly, this works too. Discover 13 Science-Based Reasons That Suggest Viewing Nature Scenes Can Improve Your Health
4. Connect with nature through food.
This one is a bit obvious, but if it doesn’t come from the earth, your body will not react well to it. Eat foods that are naturally available – fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean, hormone-free protein, and wholesome grains. Even better, plant your own vegetables if you can—you’ll get the combined benefits of eating healthy, spending time in nature, and getting some exercise.
5. Bring nature to your fitness routine.
When you exercise outdoors, you get extra benefits from being in nature. For instance, studies show that jogging through the woods gives more satisfaction, more enjoyment, and less frustration when compared to running on a treadmill. Jogging in the woods is also associated with less fatigue, diminished anxious thoughts, less hostility, more positive mental thoughts, and an overall feeling of invigoration.
6. Plan your life around nature.
Studies show the closer you live to nature, the better your health and the lower your stress levels. Green space can include parks, gardens, or even just a grassy area. You don’t have to drive miles to a forest or climb to a mountaintop. Explore your own neighbourhood and find where the parks are or start in your own garden.
7. Go on a digital detox nature retreat.
Escaping into nature, relaxing, away from your digital devices and screens, eating healthily, and sleeping deeply, is a great way to feel rested, renewed, and back on track. Many of our top hotels and venues are catching on to the healing power of more nature connection. Retreats and other nature for wellbeing experiences are becoming more available. If you have been on a digital detox, an unplugged weekend, or a nature connection retreat at a wonderful venue, please tell us about it by sharing your experience in the comments below.
Look out for my next blog in May, when I will be sharing my experience at an eco-lodge near Cusco in Peru. In October find out all about my return trip to Finland for another week in the wilderness.