Have you ever gone for a delightful walk in nature and returned feeling happier, calmer, and more refreshed than before? Perhaps you have wondered if there is a scientific basis to the enhanced wellbeing that you feel yourself experiencing after spending time in the natural world? In fact, there is: nature can positively impact on our wellbeing in numerous ways and there are studies to show this. Keep reading to discover more below!
A study conducted by the University of Minnesota shows that spending time in nature has a healing effect on the psyche. Those who ditch their computer and smartphone screens for a few hours a day and potter around their gardens or stroll through the park experience a greater quantity and intensity of positive emotions such as calm, happiness, and optimism. Simultaneously, they experience the diminishing of negative emotions such as sadness and anger.
Though we have been talking thus far about how spending time outdoors in nature brings us a holistic sense of rejuvenation, in truth we can benefit from the healing power of nature indoors as well. Those who engage in practices as diverse as aromatherapy using natural essential oils and looking after houseplants have been shown to have similar emotional effects to experiencing nature outdoorssuggests a separate study by the University of Minnesota. Physical activity in nature, such as walking or yoga, brings specific, enhanced benefits with it, particularly in terms of cardiovascular health and psychological rejuvenation. For instance, a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that walking regularly in nature changes the mechanisms in the brain in such a way as to counteract depressive thoughts.
A recent study, published in the New Atlantic, involving an EEG, which measures brain activity, has shed light on why nature has a positive effect on us. The sense of calm and happiness we feel is due to neurochemicals released in the visual cortex as a result of the beautiful shapes of nature (this visual dimension is why even picturing a beautiful natural scene in our minds can make us feel calmer). Participants in the study who spent time walking in nature exhibited marked improvements in their cardiac and metabolic health after just a couple of months.
The scientific and anecdotal evidence cited above provides a scientific basis for the idea that time spent in nature calms you down, brings you a deep sense of inner peace and helps to enhance your perspective on life. These contributions to wellbeing require more research to verify and are vary between individuals. Book a retreat in beautiful natural surroundings to boost the healing powers of meditation or spiritual silence. Consider booking a retreat that enables you to engage in some form of physical exercises, such as yoga, to further optimise the positive effects of your holiday. There are special healing holidays and wellbeing retreats taking place all over the world right now, so finding one that is right for you will be simple. It is a good idea to go on one of these holidays or retreats on a regular basis, at least once a year, in order to get the maximum benefit.
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