Being outdoors in nature is so refreshing! It can be fantastic to connect to the world outside in such a close and personal way. But did you know that nature is more than just a refresher? It also has scientific benefits as a healer of various problems.
For years, experts have touted the healing effects of nature. It has been implemented in many recovery programs for patients from all backgrounds and with many forms of illnesses. Whether you face physical injury or disease, mental illness, trauma, or psychological distress, the great outdoors has the answer for you. Here are seven ways nature can be the best healer.
1. As A Healer, Nature Improves Mental Health
Those with mental health issues tend to get lost in their thoughts. They may constantly replay old negative thoughts or have a strong inner critic. In many cases, this is a part of a pattern of rumination or disordered overthinking.
Studies have shown that spending just ninty minutes walking in nature can reduce the risk of rumination. Rumination is a crucial symptom of depression and anxiety and tends to lead to adverse mental wellbeing. As a healer, nature can help to reduce the severity of those experiences by alleviating symptoms.
Going for a quick walk is all it takes to perk yourself up short term. And in the long run, regular nature exposure has clear benefits. In general, those who spend time in nature tend to feel happier and better. Research has shown that nature can improve general emotional wellbeing, leading to greater life satisfaction. It does so by expanding feelings of human connectedness, which encourages more positive thinking in life.
But this isn’t all that nature does for mental health! Spending time in nature is known to:
- Reduce stress
- Increase relaxation
- Manage anger
- Improve self-esteem and self-confidence
- Boost mood
- Forge more robust peer and social connections
2. It Encourages Exercise (One Of The Best Healers)
When you’re outdoors in nature, you’re likely walking or exerting yourself in some way. Even if it’s mild, this is a form of exercise. And exercise is known to be a fantastic healer, so you get benefits from them. For example:
- Strength exercises, such as weight-lifting, can preserve motor function, say studies. Research says that they are also capable of benefiting those who are at risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Cardiovascular exercises, as their name suggests, can provide significant benefits to the cardiovascular system. Those at risk of or recovering from cardiovascular diseases can heal through careful movement, say studies.
- Moving meditation exercises, such as Tai Chi, can be beneficial to those dealing with cognitive impairment. Studies show its healing capabilities can extend to protecting or even halting further impairment.
- General exercise improves immunity and speeds up the healing of wounds, says research.
Exercising in nature can also make you further enjoy your workouts. You’ll feel more energized and invigorated, so you’ll want to do it even more. This is beneficial to those who need to stay committed to exercise in their healing journey.
3. It Reduces Blood Pressure
Blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a severe problem, and it’s a widespread one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that almost half of all US adults have hypertension.
In 2019, the organization’s research also found that over half a million deaths in America were related in some way to hypertension. This is made worse because high blood pressure increases your risk of stroke and heart disease. These two diseases are also the United States’ leading causes of death!
For many, high blood pressure is a constant, looming problem. That’s why healing from it is so important, and yet only 1 in 4 adults who have this issue have it under control. If only more people knew that nature is an incredible healer for hypertension, at the cost of just half an hour a week!
Yes, you read that correctly. Studies show that just thirty minutes spent outdoors in a park can be enough to control the hypertension of almost ten percent of those who have it. For those with more severe cases, more time in nature is needed, but the results are the same! The stress-relieving and exercise-inducing effects of being out in greenery work wonders.
4. It Strengthens Immunity
One of the critical ways that nature can be the best healer is through the immune system. After all, you can’t heal without solid immunity. Studies have shown how exposure to nature strengthens and reinforces the functions of the immune system. But how does this happen? Is it just a placebo?
There’s some scientific basis for this! Breathing in fresh air from natural environments means breathing in healthy airborne chemicals called phytoncides. Phytoncides are produced by plants as a means of protecting themselves against insects and pests. As such, this chemical has immense antifungal and antibacterial properties.
When you inhale phytoncides, your body naturally responds, increasing white blood cell activity. White blood cells play highly crucial roles in immunity. One essential type of white blood cell is the Natural Killer cell, often called NK. These cells kill various cells infected with viruses, tumors, and other problems. Just being in nature increases the efficiency and effectiveness of NK activity, leading to tons of immunity benefits that aid healing!
5. It Improves Sleep (An Essential Healer)
If you want to get a good night’s sleep, you need to look no further than right outside your door! Nature is highly beneficial in aiding sleep quality, say studies. Time outdoors can reduce stress and boost positive energy expenditure, allowing you to enjoy better rest. It can also make you more energized overall, so you’ll need less sleep to enjoy the best effects.
But how is sleep beneficial as a healer? As it turns out, it plays a pretty significant role in immunity and recovery, as research has found. Have you noticed that you feel terrific after a healthy sleep? That’s because sleep puts your body to work while you rest! One of the sleep cycles involves deep, restorative recovery, where your body does what it can to fix any illness or damage.
This deep sleep cycle requires healthy sleep quality to achieve. Interrupted sleep doesn’t allow the body to reach its restorative phase. On top of that, too-short sleep periods don’t let the body get to that phase of the cycle enough times. When you manage to achieve high-quality and consistent sleep, your body protects and energizes itself well.
During that phase, the body grows and repairs tissue, muscles, and bone. It also produces more of the components that the immune system needs to function. A lack of sufficient rest can lead to:
- Injury inflammation
- Symptom amplification
- Diminished cognitive function
- Diminished physical function
- Emotional distress
- Mood swings
- Fatigue and exhaustion
How Sleep Can Become a Great Healer
For sleep to do its best work as a healer, you need a consistent sleep/wake cycle. This cycle stems from the Circadian rhythm or the body’s natural sleepiness and wakefulness for 24 hours. If you don’t have any sleep disorders, you’ll feel awake when the sun is up and feel drowsy as it goes down. It’s essential to maintain regular sleep patterns to get ideal results. You should aim to get 8 hours of sleep per night!
- Other benefits of sleep are:
- Improved participation in healing efforts
- Faster recovery speed
- More energy and reduced fatigue
- Decreased levels of stress and anxiety
- Long-term sleep habit improvement for long-term results
- Stronger cognitive function
6. It Increases Awe
Few people realize the power of awe. It seems like a simple, isolated feeling, but it has vast effects on those around it. In fact, awe is often a tool in various forms of marketing and propaganda. That’s how effective it is for psychological states! So why not use that as a method for psychological healing, too?
Nature is one of the most potent ways to experience life-changing awe. Research has found that looking at beautiful, towering trees in forests can produce an incredible feeling of awe. These emotions were more substantial than what was experienced by those who look at tall buildings. But how can awe be a healer through nature? Well, it:
- Attunes you to more significant concepts and the realization that the world is more significant than you
- Reduces feelings of selfishness and entitlement
- Promotes altruism, generosity, and helpfulness in you
- Energizes you.
- Reduces inflammatory bodily compounds, thus improving physical health
- Increases the desire to socialize with others and form a community
- Boosts general prosocial behavior
- It motivates you to make changes in your life towards more positive directions
- It makes you feel a stronger sense of purpose
For those healing from difficult times, nature can be a way to reignite a spark of awe within you. This can bring you back to life in surprising and enriching ways.