The Well

Grounded In Nature

by Andrew Shaw on Aug.13, 2010, under Recent Posts

A Deep Well

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.” — Anne Frank.

I mentioned yesterday that I recently returned from traveling in the Pacific Northwest.  What beautiful country!  So many trees.  So much green.  Fresh air and open space.  For someone who has lived in L.A. most of his life, it was a wonderfully different environment to experience.  During the few weeks we spent in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, we were outdoors most of the time.  There’s no doubt, you just feel better immersed in, and connected to, nature. 

Don’t take only my word for it.  Researchers in the British Medical Journalfound that contact with nature improves health and wellbeing.  People who regularly get outdoors and into nature report subjective health benefits, reduced stress, improvements in their quality of life, and a deeper sense of being a part of something greater.  Another study has shown that when you spend more time out in nature, you feel more alive.  Published in a recent issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the study shows that getting out and communing with nature is better for feeling rejuvenated than reaching for the urban cup of coffee. “Nature is fuel for the soul,” says Richard Ryan, lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. It is important for both mental and physical health. “Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don’t just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings” says Ryan.  Not only is nature good for your health and wellbeing, it makes you a kinder, gentler, more selfless person as well.   Studies, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that immersion in nature brings individuals closer to others and fosters altruism along with feelings of interconnectedness.

Intuitively, we already know these things to be true.  But if it has been some time since you’ve really been out in nature, try it yourself as your own experiment.  Go outdoors this weekend.  Find a place in nature that allows you to disconnect from the hectic pace and the city buzz.  Be amongst the trees, the mountains, the water, the sky.  Let yourself be surrounded and feel in-touch with the natural world for awhile.  Be present, awaken your senses and absorb it fully.  And remember to notice how you feel during and afterwards. 

Be Well

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