Being close to nature brings you an inner peace and gives that feeling of breaking away from everything chaotic. It turns out that the feeling is not a cliche and no, it’s not just in your head.
Science has indeed proven that enjoying time in the outdoors can help relieve stress. Here are 11 reasons why nature has that calming effect on you.
#1. Disconnect to unwind with nature.
There are many factors that can cause stress. Being too focused on your devices, having to read tons of emails and worrying about what messages those emails may contain happen to be among the things that can cause you stress. It would be a great idea to unplug every once in a while and enjoy time out in nature.
#2. Nature gives your brain time to recharge.
Our brain demands 20 percent of body energy, and this will be increased when under a mental challenge. Once you take a rest, the brain doesn’t really stop working. But if you’re daydreaming – an activity that you can easily do when out in a peaceful natural environment, the brain goes into default mode network (DMN). When the brain goes into DMN, the brain doesn’t focus on a task and gives way to other functions like remembering memories, thinking or imagining about the future and assessing your own emotions and behavior towards others.
#3. Vitamin D improves bodily functions.
You can get a dose of Vitamin D by going outdoors and bask under the morning sunshine. This is a great way to greet the day and, at the same time, it improves your health. Vitamin D helps in maximize calcium absorption, which in turn promotes good dental and bone health. The vitamin has also been found to reduce the risk of developing certain diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Vitamin D also relaxes the blood vessels, thereby improving blood circulation.
#4. Nature helps normalize your sleep schedule.
Getting out in the sun and receiving a dose of sunlight helps normalize your sleep schedule if you’re having trouble in the sleep department. Natural light helps regulate the melatonin production in your body. Melatonin is the hormone that induces sleep since it controls the body clock. The melatonin works at night, making you feel sleepy. As a result, you can get that good night’s sleep that will help you wake up feeling energized.
#5. Breathing relieves stress.
Since breathing is the body’s built-in stress reliever, certain breathing techniques can help slow the production of stress hormones. In the case of rapid breathing, the body’s sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) is activated. On the other hand, slow, relaxed breathing — which is usually encouraged when out in nature — stimulates the parasympathetic reaction, which then helps calm the body.
6. Soil bacteria helps boost serotonin levels.
Turns out that fresh air is not the only thing in nature that provides a calming effect. University of Colorado researchers found that Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless bacteria found in soil, can serve as natural antidepressants.
The bacteria increase the release and breakdown of serotonin in the brain, which then gives you a better mood. Interestingly, this bacteria also decreases inflammation of the immune system.
#7. Being with nature helps you focus.
Devices and gadgets can be stressors that distract us from more important things to do. However, being in a natural environments help people leave stressful things and keep their focus, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Centering your mind actually helps relax the body.
#8. Nature lowers stress hormones
Getting close to nature and performing tasks related to nature, like gardening, is better at fighting stress compared to doing leisure activities, a recent Dutch study suggested. In the study, two groups were given different tasks. One group will read indoors after doing a stressful task while the other will spend time gardening for 30 minutes. The gardening group reported that they had a better mood than the readers. Not only that, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol were recorded to be low.
#9. Breathing fresh air improves blood pressure
The body is made to work harder to get the oxygen it needs when in an indoor or polluted environment. This results in the increase in blood pressure. Get out, spend time in nature and breathe some fresh air every now and then.
#10. Oxygen is tied to serotonin levels.
Oxygen affects your general well-being as it is tied to the serotonin levels in the brain. Having too much serotonin makes you tense and irritable while too little of it makes you depressed. Breathing fresh air balances the levels of serotonin, thereby promoting pleasant mood and general well-being.
#11. Outdoor exercise promotes endorphin release.
Engaging in outdoor activities and exercises can pump up the production of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that let you feel good.
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