The lack of daily contact with the natural environment can even lead to depression.
But the constraints of modern life are increasingly turning us into creatures that live enclosed by four concrete walls and that are related for many hours a day with screens, and not so much with the subtle changes that happen every day in the natural environment. And that, as the American journalist and writer Richard Louv explains in his book Last Child in the Woods, can have dire consequences.
Louv, who coined the term «nature deficit disorder» in 2008, reveals in his work outstanding research that demonstrates how direct exposure to nature is essential for human development, especially of children, and details the negative consequences of not have it regularly: obesity, difficulty of attention, cardiovascular diseases and, the most important, generalized: depression.
Louv also details the positive effects of daily contact with nature that surrounds us: development and empowerment of all the senses, ease of integrating learning, enrichment of creativity or general development of children’s psychological skills through the link with everything natural, among others.
The author goes further and comments Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences to explain how the eighth intelligence should be natural intelligence, that is, the ability to identify and classify the elements of nature. According to Sarah Ivens, author of Forest Therapy, the list of benefits that allows us to spend more time in the forest, the beach, the countryside or the mountains is very long. They stand out from them:
11 benefits of spending more time in contact with nature
- Decreased blood pressure
- Decrease in levels of anxiety, anger, depression, obesity, post-traumatic stress syndrome, attention deficit or hyperactivity.
- Reparation of attention capacity.
- Improvement of sleep
- Foundation of the immune system
- Increase of energy and vitality.
- Improvement of anti-tumor cell activity.
- Increase in sensory awareness and perception.
- Increased brain capacity and clarity of thought.
- Improving self-esteem, empathy, kindness and compassion.
- Improvement of creativity and intuition.
Experts say that enhancing our contact with nature is a habit and that, as such, you just have to try to incorporate it into your daily or weekly routine to start noticing its benefits. The summer that is around the corner is a very favorable station to spend time away from home. And you do not even have to go far. Almost all of us have a green zone or tree-lined fence.
An easy way to incorporate more nature into day-to-day life is to take advantage of the benefits of such an essential element as water. Here are some proposals that we can apply easily, whether or not we are on vacation:
Drink it In summer we naturally increase our water intake. Make sure you drink enough – between 1.5 liters and 2 liters a day – to help your body purify itself and eliminate toxins naturally.
Bathing in it. If you are still cold for a swim in the sea, you can try to experience some of the benefits of thalassotherapy at home, preparing a warm bath to which you can add two cups of Epsom salts and a few drops of your favorite essential oil, for example of lavender.
Exercise within it. The exercise inside the sea is perfect for pregnant women, people with obesity or with problems in the joints. But in general it can benefit everyone, because it is an easy and very healthy way to burn calories and increase flexibility with little impact on the body.
Observe the. Few things are more relaxing than getting lost in the contemplation of the sea as far as the eye can see. New research indicates that living close to the coast has a very positive impact on health, and that the contemplation of the sea is capable of changing our brain waves. It has also been shown that the color blue has a calming effect on people. So you do not have to do anything to stop and contemplate the water to notice its positive effects.
Breathe it. We like the smell of the sea because it is loaded with negative ions. As explained in the Journal of Alternative Medicine, ion therapy – which is nothing more than breathing the sea air – helps treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is also said that sea air is favorable to improve lung function. So, even if we do not live near the coast, we can go from time to time and make sure we breathe deeply by the sea.
Nature in the city
In case the water therapy does not convince us or the sea catches us too far, here are other proposals to reconnect with nature in summer even within the city:
- A walk through a botanical garden that we do not know.
- An outdoor tennis match.
- Exit to paddle to a nearby lake or river.
- Play the petanque in an open space.
- Go to a summer movie theater or show a movie on the terrace of the house.
- Make a party in the garden, if we have it or has a friend.
- A nap al fresco.
- Find a garden or a nearby country area and play to identify the different summer flowers. We can draw them in a notebook.
- Sign up for a yoga class on the beach.
- Take a walk in the park. You do not have to go far to feel the benefits of nature. Spend time in the park next to home can be enough to improve our mood and our health
- Practice the forest baths. It’s about taking a walk through the countryside or through the forest using all five senses to enjoy it and make the most of its benefits.
- Initiate a small garden at home. All you need is a small pot in which we plan whatever we want.
- Give us flowers. If we can not grow anything at home or do not have time, flowers are a simple and effective way to bring nature to your home.
If we intuitively feel that nature makes us feel better and also, we already know that science has amply demonstrated its benefits, what do we expect to start to respond to the call of the wild?
Source: La Vanguardia