There’s a little cabin in the woods where I bathe in a claw-foot tub as the sun rises above “Calhoun Canyon.” I soak in steam and the great outdoors.
I am filled with gratitude to be part of this magnificent planet and view every day as an opportunity to witness the abundant biodiversity of nature—one that is steering towards a massive shift.
As a society, we’ve retreated from the great outdoors, instead mesmerized by our phones and tablets, we’re stupefied by our ever-growing technologies. We would rather be gaming and texting than taking a nature bath.
Being in nature, whether you’re in the Sierra wilderness, Central Park, or simply walking down a tree-lined street, has the power to heal us and the planet.
Let’s explore some of the real benefits of being in nature.
Cultivate Emotional Resilience
The first step is to go outside and follow your nose—notice the smell of dew on the grass. Listen to the song of the trees as they sway above. Feel the wind on your skin.
The last time I foraged for mushrooms, I could smell the damp earth and the slant of light on a blue forget-me-not. A bumblebee took drunken aim as I squatted to inspect her trajectory.
Suddenly, I felt a deep sense of calm, no longer anxious about the current state of affairs.
Is this what they call “ecotherapy?”
Walking mindfully and taking in the sights, sounds, and textures along your path can distract you from those pesky negative feedback loops. It brings you back to the present moment.
Studies have shown that a simple walk nature reduces anxiety, keeps spirits high, improves memory and helps people feel energetic—more alive!
Exercise Your Body
Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better, but it also contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
While it’s tempting to go inside for some hot yoga or work out at the gym, it’s critical that we move around outside. Humans have been roaming outdoors for thousands of millennia, so there must be something to it.
Boost Physical Immunity
Another physical benefit of spending time outside is that it boosts your immune system. Scientists believe that inhaling phytoncides, or plant compounds, increases the number of white blood cells in our bodies, which helps battle viruses and diseases. Furthermore, increased vitamin D exposure benefits the immune system, and also our bones and blood cells.
While walking alone is beneficial, I have found that spending time outside helps me reconnect with friends and family in a meaningful way. Walking and talking while focusing on footsteps and toadstools brings a meditative aspect to our conversations.
If I’m out on a hike or a ride on a bike, I tend to run into more people. This often leads to a conversation with someone—now an acquaintance, perhaps someday a friend.
One of the greatest advantages of outdoor activities like this is the opportunity to re-establish a sense of community and companionship – whether with friends or kind strangers.
Technology and world events have distanced us from our major looming environmental issues. We’re experiencing more acute weather events, and the quality of our water and air is in jeopardy. The biodiversity of the planet is diminishing as the climate changes.
Getting outside will help you regain your connection with nature and find your own ways to help preserve its integrity.
If you’re worried about Climate Change, nature provides a path of hope.
My Final Advice: Take a Forest Bath
The ‘greenness’ of our environment is thought to help us refocus in many ways.
The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries created the term “shinrin-yoku,” which translates to “forest bathing” or “absorbing the forest atmosphere in 1982.” The practice encourages people to simply spend time in nature.
Forest bathing means taking it in, using all our senses, to feel nature’s atmosphere. Not simply a walk in the woods, it is the conscious and contemplative practice of being immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the forest.
If I am stuck on a writing project, taking a forest bath outside helps me refocus and get my creative juices flowing.
If I’m anxious about the climate, I bathe in nature—no actual water required.