A study found that most people in the western world spend 90% of our time indoors.
Reflecting on this we can understand how easy that is to do. We sleep inside, we eat in restaurants/café’s, lunchrooms and kitchens, we relax inside (watching Netflix etc), we spend our recreation time inside (playing on gaming consoles), we exercise in gyms and we connect with people on our phone and screens whilst generally sitting inside. It all occurs indoors.
During 2020 with COVID restrictions we have felt the need to be inside more than ever, and many of our normal outdoor activities have not been available or put on hold at one time or another.
We will be the first admit there is a comfort in all of this, it’s easy, it protects us from the weather, the hot the cold and the bugs (most of the time). It is generally a lot less effort.
However, there is a downfall to this, and it is that we are becoming increasingly disconnected to nature and… NATURE IS GOOD FOR ALL OF US.
How is nature good for us?
Here is a brief summary of how nature benefits us according to the research conducted over the last 30 years:
– Connecting to nature has shown an increase in positive health outcomes such as reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
– Connecting to nature has been associated with better coping skills, less emotional stress, and improved mood.
– Connecting to nature has shown positive outcomes in peoples overall wellbeing.
– Nature connectedness has shown an increase in pro-nature and environmental behaviours.
What does ‘connecting to nature’ mean?
Simply put, connecting to nature is the action of realising our shared place in nature. This means it is something we make a choice to do and we do it with intention. For example, if we had to walk through a park to get to work and rushed through speaking on our phone this would not be connecting with nature. If we were to walk through the park paying attention to our surroundings, hearing the bird noises and the other people walking their dogs, this would support one’s connection to nature.
How can I connect to nature?
So before you think you need to pack a bag and go on a 3 day wilderness hike, connecting to nature can happen much more simply and research has shown that connection to nature 1 or more times a week can lead to the benefits listed above.
Connecting to nature can include:
– Going for a walk and take in your surroundings. – Watching a nature webcam (https://explore.org/livecams and https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife have some good ones.
– Listen to the rain or a thunderstorm.
– Watch a nature documentary.
– Grow your own veggies.
– Look up at the stars.
– Spend time at the beach, maybe make a sandcastle.
– Watch the birds in your backyard or local park.
– Have a picnic, maybe share it with a friend.
– Sketch or draw something from nature.
– Plant some flowers or a tree
– Identify trees or wildlife in your area.
– Read a book set in nature or about nature.
When we start to think about nature it provides us with endless opportunities to connect and reap the overwhelming benefits.
Capaldi, C. A., Dopko, R. L., & Zelenski, J. M. (2014). The relationship between nature connectedness and happiness: a meta-analysis. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 976.
Pritchard, A., Richardson, M., Sheffield, D., & McEwan, K. (2020). The relationship between nature connectedness and eudaimonic well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Happiness Studies, 21(3), 1145-1167.
Schutte, N. S., & Malouff, J. M. (2018). Mindfulness and connectedness to nature: A meta-analytic investigation. Personality and Individual Differences, 127, 10-14.
Whitburn, J., Linklater, W., & Abrahamse, W. (2020). Meta‐analysis of human connection to nature and proenvironmental behavior. Conservation Biology, 34(1), 180-193.