During the winter months many of us spend the majority of our time indoors where the air is stale and the light artificial. Indoor heating, electrical equipment, computers and TV screens can all have a negative affect on the air we breathe and how we feel.
Research has shown that our environment contributes up to 70% in the effort to reduce stress and reducing stress hormone levels in the body. This includes our homes, offices, commutes, and daily interactions with others. Science tells us that nature and the natural world helps us to recalibrate and feel better, no matter the season.
Here are just a few reasons why the outdoors feel so good:
The Outdoor Effect
Science shows that nature holds a special captivation for all people. That’s because being outdoors in the fresh air among the trees, flowering plants and singing birds has a soothing, restorative and healing effect on humans. While this benefit is most pronounced in wilderness areas like open country meadows, flowing streams, ocean beaches, and mountain tops, research shows that urban parks also offer a landscape for nature therapy and fitness. The key to experiencing the nature connection is to tune in with our mind, body, and all of our senses.
The Natural Elements and Their Impact
It’s common knowledge that we need 20 minutes of sunlight per day for hormonal regularity, but did you know that artificial light has a measurably negative affect on us both physically and mentally? It’s true. Studies associated with the University of Iowa Medical Library and the American Optometric Association have found that common cool-white fluorescents have a negative affect on our emotional, physical and mental well being—especially during winter months. One study found that if light intake changes as little as 10%, from natural to unnatural, it affects individuals both physically and mentally.
Just taking a break and being outdoors presents an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with nature and ourselves and ultimately reduce our stress levels. If we can take the time to immerse ourselves in the colors, textures, sounds and smells of the world around us we are guaranteed to feel better. In addition and through osmosis we cannot help but develop a greater appreciation for the outdoors and all of its inhabitants. That’s because we will naturally build awareness and respect for the precious nature of nature.
This season, do yourself—your body, mind and emotions—a favor, and take a moment to step outside. Take the time to breathe in, look, listen and feel the world around you. You’ll be happy you did.