Why is being in nature so rejuvenating?
If you have ever taken a walk outside and found yourself less stressed at the end of it, you may have experienced the benefits of being in nature. An article in the “International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health stated: “Indeed, there is mounting empirical evidence that interacting with nature delivers a range of measurable human benefits, including positive effects on physical health, psychological well-being, cognitive ability and social cohesion.”
Looking at this information from the lens of taking care of ourselves, it makes sense to incorporate spending time in nature into our lives. And, the benefits listed above are enough to convince me to find a way to be outside on a regular basis. Personally, I’ve found when I walk outside for twenty minutes a day, I feel less stressed than on the days when I don’t do so.
“Away from the Things of Man”
“Joe vs. the Volcano”, a not very well known movie from the 1990’s, stars Tom Hanks (as Joe Banks) and Meg Ryan (as three different characters). Joe Banks is a hypochondriac who thinks he has a brain disease and only a few months to live. So, he quits his job (there are some pretty funny scenes of the terrible work environment he endures in the city) and sets out to live his life on his terms. In the process, he has quite an adventure.
In one scene, Banks and his girlfriend are adrift on a raft in the ocean when an enormous moon rises and he is overcome by the beauty of it and this world. This scene is the polar opposite of the earlier ones where he was working in a man-made hell.
The very last scene of the movie sums up his new perspective on life. Patricia says “I wonder where we’ll end up?” And Joe says “Hell, away from the things of man, my love. Away from the things of man.” Here is the audio clip from the movie.
If you want to calm yourself down, gain perspective on a situation, or just generally hit the reset button on stress for yourself, spend some time “away from the things of man” in nature and feel better.
Being in Nature – Ideas to Get you Started:
Take a walk or a hike in nature
Take some deep breaths, turn off your phone and take out your headphones, and listen to nature’s soundtrack. Really try to see, smell, hear and notice things along the way – today I saw birds, grasshoppers, a hummingbird, butterflies, Black-Eyed Susans, swaying trees, etc. Be present to get the most benefit.
Eat a meal outside
If you can eat your lunch outside while the weather is nice, you’ll feel more energized to go back to work than if you sat and ate at your desk (with the blood-sucking fluorescent lights per Joe Banks). The same is true for breakfast in the morning or dinner at night. It makes you slow down and enjoy what you are eating.
Spend your down time in nature
There is a reason why vacations by the beach tend to be so relaxing – the ocean, the sand, the sounds of seagulls, the fresh salty air, all are examples of ways we can immerse ourselves in our surroundings and feel grounded again.
Find items in nature that remind you of how small we truly are
Spending time by an enormous tree, a mountain that has been there for a million years, or under the grand canopy of stars in space will all serve as reminder of how inconsequential our problems are in the grand scheme of things. Nature, when left to its own devices, just gets on with life in a dispassionate way.
Bring the outdoors in
If you must be inside when it is lovely outside, see if you can figure out a way to bring reminders of the outside inside. Fresh flowers are a great way to do this. Tangible reminders in the way of shells and rocks on your desk are another. When stressed, try feeling the sides of a river smoothed rock to help you calm down.
Just remember, sometimes all we need is to be “Away from the Things of Man” for a while. What is your favorite way of doing so? Leave a message in the comments section below.
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