The Healing Power Of Nature

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In this ever-changing world where our lives are so fast-paced and optimised for efficiency daily, COVID-19 has surfaced and ‘ruined’ 2020. From the inability to visit friends and family to not being able to take a stroll in the park. I, for one, have felt the effects of this living in India while the lockdown has been in full swing. You would think that being on the 18th floor of a high rise would be the perfect place to live. High in the air with no one above you! Yet for reasons unknown, I could only describe myself feeling ‘Meh’ for a considerable period. The issue I soon realised was too much concrete and glass.

I needed a reconnection to nature.

Our symbiosis with nature is woven into our DNA, deep-rooted in the evolution of humankind.

It is one of the only constants in our history. We have never, not had nature around us. The neanderthal sought refuge in nature, the middle age humans harnessed the natural materials to travel the seven seas, and we now are utilising the fruits of mother nature by reverting to plant-based diets. Yet in the time of COVID-19 for those that live in apartments or cities, our most loyal constant has been stolen from us. For three months or so, we have been confined to the four walls of our homes, isolated from the environment; the sun warming up the barren streets outside; the rain pitter-pattering on the empty storefronts; the cool breeze that we all so crave for in times of heat, nowhere to be felt.

One thing I have realised from this experience is, our environment influences us in ways that we are not attuned to, subtle variations in climates and environments can throw us into sneezing fits and mood swings. Through a little bit of digging, I found there is a field of psychology reserved for the environment, rooted in the notion that nature has a vital role in human development and behaviour. I came across the condition called, Nature-Deficit-Disorder, coined by author Richard Louv in his famous book ‘Last Child in the Woods’. An irregularity in the brain does not cause this disorder, rather the loss of connection of humans to their natural environment. Combined with a separate condition, computer vision syndrome, that arises from staring at the screen for continuous periods, I realised that I needed to reconnect with the environment. To look up, the old palm trees swaying in the wind with the backdrop of a vibrant blue in the sky; notice the exceptional works of art of the spiderwebs between plants; feel the warmth of the sun on my skin as it rejuvenates my body.

“A walk in nature walks the soul back home” Mary Davis.

Nature’s impact on us is profound. The spiritual enhancement makes us feel further grounded daily; we feel more grateful and appreciative of the environment that we have the privilege to exist in. Merely breathing in nature has a restorative effect on our senses. Professor Helen Lockhart conducted research to spread awareness about human disconnection from nature, explaining:

‘A deep understanding and conscious awareness or knowing of the interconnectedness and interdependence between Nature, spirit and the essence of being human…’ will promote happiness within us.

Us humans are genetically conditioned to maintain a coexistence within nature, the neglect and abuse of this through materialistic gains and over-indexing on content consumption from the digital realm, one of the many reasons for the internal confusion of our emotion today.

So what’s the quickest most straightforward remedy to all of this?

Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter published a study of 19,806 participants, finding that:

Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing.’

‘Positive associations peaked between 200–300mins per week with no further gain’, and the pattern was consistent across key groups, including older adults and those with long-term health issues. No matter how the 2 hours of nature, time was achieved, it had the same effect! I know now that lockdown has been lifted slightly, I’ll be doing my best to get my 2 hours a day, but I also think there is an element of not just mindlessly being in mother nature. Instead of only engaging with the visual aspects of the natural environment, appreciate what she has had to go through to protect us. She has been here long before you were born, and she will be here long after you’re gone. So whether you’re feeling a bit ‘meh’ like me or need a break from the digital world, embrace the healing power of nature.

“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” — Sir David Attenborough

What are your experiences in nature? Let me know in the comments or drop me a message on any of the following social networks. I would love to hear from you! — Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Youtube.