What’s nature got to do with it? Plenty.
As the owner of two male Samoyeds, I am often outdoors walking my two 80-pound furry friends. I especially enjoy walking them in the wooded parks or state conservancies not far from my home, where there is plenty of nature to enjoy. From noticing those squirrels doing their tricks, to finding food, to the large-eyed, white-tailed deer being so still in their surroundings yet listening to the most quiet whispers—nature is all around. I even marvel at how the endless varieties of birds (bluejays, woodpeckers, cardinals, finches, sparrows, robins, and hawks) share food and live together. It’s pretty amazing.
Nature revives our energy and inner spirit and can teach us major lessons if we are willing to observe and understand. Getting in tune with it can help optimize our immunity and ultimately our wellbeing. Sound far-fetched? It’s really not. It’s quite simple. It’s natural—which, by the way, comes from the word “nature.” Even Albert Einstein professed, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
Many ancient civilizations have observed, praised, and honored nature. For example, native American Indian tribes used nature to guide their health as well as decisions about their welfare.
From the very ancient wisdom of Ayurveda to more recent studies, such as one conducted by Ming Kuo from the University of Illinois, being in and observing nature can offer you plenty of health benefits. Here are just a few.
Ever walked barefoot in the warm sand or dewy grass? It’s very grounding. And being able to physically feel the ground helps your body to achieve balance and a sense of serenity. Being in nature is stressless. It truly demands very little of us. It hints at relaxation, beauty (which often goes unrecognized) and a sense of bliss. Perhaps Anthony Douglas Williams was thinking about being in nature when he said, “Silence has a mysterious calming effect, allowing your soul to be at peace with your thoughts.”
The opposite of being stressed is being relaxed. So, as nature calms you, your stress level reduces. And lower stress levels allow your own body’s immunity to increase. A study conducted in Japan showed that people who walked through forests and parks for a few hours every day had a reduced level of cortisol (stress hormone), lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure than those who walked in a city area. And the natural vitamin D from sunshine and negative ions are inherent in nature. Perhaps the fresh air of a more natural setting will do your respiratory system some good as well. And what you breath in can have an impact on your body’s ability to stave off illness or disease.
While nature can calm you, reduce your stress levels, and boost immunity, there is something just so darn refreshing about being in the great outdoors, right? Many people who practice outdoor sports, such as running, hiking, skiing, biking, fishing, golfing, or sailing (to name a few), partly enjoy that activity simply because they are outdoors and get to feel the wind against their face, the sunshine on their back, or the sand and water against their skin. Nature touches them physically and emotionally! It seems to revive their sense of vibrancy, healing them and rejuvenating them. You have probably experienced these same sensations even with a simple walk in a forest or along a beautiful beach. This is how I feel as I walk with my Samoyeds each and every day!
Watching animals behave in nature is a serious passion for some people. This pasttime can help us to learn how to better handle challenges, get along with others, become self sufficient and resilient, and to slow down to relish “in the calm” of our lives. We have so much to learn from animals, if we could learn to become quiet and more observant of their behaviors.
All of these wonderful benefits of nature give way to feeling younger, stronger, and mentally happier. So, will you opt for watching the next reality show or the “real” show of nature?
Featured photo credit: Olive Picking via flickr.com
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