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Stressed at work or with your home life? Here is a cure that works for everyone, and costs you nothing! (Which is why your shrink won’t tell you about it!)
The cure to a stressful day is a simple one, and everyone can use it. Get outside into nature.
This is something we can all do, costs you nothing, and is the most natural cure of all. We all have a connection to nature, even if we live or work in a high-rise. When you look for one, there is a park or garden we can all use – and it will be closer than you think.
Nature is a great leveller – the site of birds bathing in a bath, or the scent of flowers, or watching squirrels bound along a lawn… it doesn’t matter what it is – the connection with nature is close by, and nature doesn’t care if we are rich or poor, successful or challenged. And what a difference it can make to our mood!
Try this – get into your local park and just look around you. Look with open eyes and an open heart. Simply take it all in, without any thought for what else is going on in your life. Believe me, it works.
In the 1970s, a research team at the University of Michigan investigated the effects of experiencing nature and its effect on reducing stress and tiredness. It concluded that nature encourages our brains to relax and de-stress, which improved other mental functions such as memory and mental processing.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Let’s not forget something…
Humans evolved in the natural environment, surrounded by greenery and trees. Trees, particularly, have a calming effect. Our ancestors descended from them.
Our evolution hasn’t gone that far in the last few thousand years… being surrounded by nature is where we feel most comfortable. Research in Japan, which is a country that has sadly a high suicide rate, revealed that people who put themselves into a natural environment significantly reduced their stress levels, and experienced less depression.
The effects of moving into a natural environment can be immediate. Studies have shown that stressed people experienced the benefits of nature within three minutes – their heart rate, blood pressure and the muscle tension in their forehead had fallen dramatically compared to the other half of the test group who were kept indoors.
In another study, the researchers confirmed that a decrease in heart rate was experienced when its subjects were situated in the forest, when compared to those in an urban environment. Nature is calming.
And another study found that getting outdoors, walking in nature is restorative when faced with major depressive disorders. Wow! Haven’t we got to try this?
How ‘natural’ does it have to be?
Not very! One study found that mental energy was restored even when they just looked at pictures of nature (compared to non-natural pictures). Pictures! So imagine what a walk in the park will do for you.
Just looking at pictures of a natural environment can have a positive effect.
The evidence stacks up. Isn’t it worth trying? Research confirms it. But what about you? If you’re stressed, on the edge of depression, and feeling that this world is against you… then a walk outside isn’t a big investment for what could be a dramatic return.
So here’s the deal….
Give it a try – you’ve little to lose. Take a hike! Literally. Go and walk in your local parks, climb a mountain, or walk on a beach. Look at the colors. Smell the scent of the nature. Listen to the birds. Touch the leaves, the grass, the trees.
If you can’t do that, google for videos or pictures of a mountain, tree, flower or bear – anything that is a natural scene. Immerse yourself in it, and wonder. You could also go birding with the right equipment. I know a lot of ornithologists, and they’re some of the most relaxed and calm people that I know.
Try this, and then I invite you to come back to this post and make a comment to tell me I am wrong.