8 Ways To Connect With Nature For Better Health

8 ways to connect with nature, picture of a guy taking a nature walk and looking up at a forest of huge trees, connect with nature

Why do so many of us feel a tug to connect with nature? Is this just a unique characteristic that is cultivated during youth by parents who appreciated the environment? Is it the result of growing up in a rural culture? Or is there something intrinsically biological that connects humans with the wilderness?

Is this tug toward nature naturally occurring in all of us with some responding to it and others ignoring it? Science claims that they have evidence to prove that humans are physiologically linked with the natural world.

The Evidence: Medical research performed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conclude that spending time in green spaces is good for our health. Benefits vary depending on the method of connecting with nature and the time invested, but even a little time in a small green space is valuable. The reason humans experience better health when connected with nature is still a scientific mystery. However, there are interesting theories that propose a biological connection between humans and trees as the reason for these responses when the two come together.

Green Living: Environmental planning research in the Netherlands concluded that residents who lived in neighborhoods with an abundance of green spaces were healthier than their contemporaries who lacked this daily lifestyle connection with nature. A similar study in Japan came to the same conclusion and also indicated that people regularly connected with nature lived longer.

How Much Green: To enjoy health benefits, how much green do you need? The models studied show that best results occur when 90% of the surrounding environment is green. But even if your exposure to nature is limited, don’t be discouraged. When the green space was reduced to comprise only 10% of the surrounding environment, there was only a 5% increase of ill health-effects.

No Discrimination: One of the greatest announcements coming from this research is that trees, grass and flowering meadows do not discriminate. The health benefits of connecting with nature are equal to all who engage. Education level did not matter, nor did gender, race, age or socio-economic status. Nature accepts and rewards everyone unconditionally.

Get Connected: With so much to gain from connecting with nature, it’s time to take action. Think about how much is lost with so many people disconnected from nature through the use of technology or living a sedentary lifestyle. Unplug from the tablet and plug in to a meadow. Here are some great ways to get connected with the green around you:

Here’s How You Connect With Nature

  1. Observation: This is more than just poking your head out the door and peeking outside to see what the weather is like. Start the day with a cup of tea or coffee, quietly observing the nature around you. Involve all of your senses. Smell the air. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of early morning birdsong. Sit or stand at the edge of a shadow and feel the temperature change as the rising Sun shortens the shadow and sunlight envelops you. Even if inclement weather arises, much observation of nature can be done simply by viewing the outdoors through a window. If your window is sheltered under a canopy or porch, you can open the window to sniff the morning air and hear the sounds of nature waking for a new day.
  2. Walk: This is a great way to immerse yourself in another world. Become completely detached from the things that make yourself distinctly human. Follow a forest path and enter the world of trees, wildlife and fauna. Eventually you will lose the feeling of being an alien in a strange world and will feel completely at home.
  3. Eco-Action: Take advantage of your time communing with nature to give back. Visit popular green spaces and commit to picking up litter left behind by those less conscientious. Use an eco-app on your favorite smart device and become a citizen scientist, monitoring and reporting the effects of climate change in the world of nature
  4. Picnic: Dining in the great outdoors is a favorite tradition for many families. Childhood memories or favorite romantic interludes often involve picnics. Select sunset or sunrise for mealtime to create even greater significance.
  5. Shed Coverings: Although you may not be inclined to go nude in a green space (it may not even be legal), you can shed many typical human coverings and create a more intimate connection. Take off your shoes and feel the grass, twigs and soil. Wiggle your toes to really experience the stuff. Touch the bark of trees, caressing the rough surface. Lay flat in a meadow of wildflowers, immersed in their perfume. Lean against a stone cliff-face and feel its chill or warmth against your back. Plunge your hand in a babbling brook then lift it high, feeling the water trickle down your forearm. Hike with the tactile purpose of experiencing as many textures as possible.
  6. Wildlife Watching: This hobby is more than the thrill of spying a local species and checking it off your list. Wildlife watching in a particular area over a period of time leads to the observer eventually recognizing individual creatures. The environment surrounding you becomes more meaningful when you develop a relationship with those who call the trees, hollows and river banks home. Set out a bird feeder and you don’t even have to leave home or a local campsite to establish a relationship with local wildlife.
  7. Meditation: Considering the principles and goals of meditation, a natural setting is the ideal place for the practice. It stands to reason, then, that reading a book or engaging in an activity like yoga would also be right at home in a forest clearing, backyard or beach.
  8. Get Out Of Town: For urban dwellers, finding a green space may be a challenge. You might have to get out of town. Since there are no hotel rooms in the deep woods, the best alternative is to pack up and hit the road. Travel in an RV for greater comfort as you connect with nature for better health!

What To Expect: As time passes, eventually you will discover that investing in a nature connection has really paid off. Here are some health benefits to expect:

  • Stress Recovery
  • Longer Attention Span
  • Better Weight Management Because Of Physical Activity
  • Less Fatigue
  • Better Concentration Skills
  • Mood Stabilization
  • Emotional Restoration
  • Improvement of Stress Related Conditions Such As High Blood Pressure

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