Step into the world of nature, a place where tranquility meets health benefits beyond  imagination. Nature isn’t just a pretty backdrop; it’s a source of well-being for your  mind and body. In this blog, I will be diving into the magic of nature and uncovering  how spending time outdoors can do wonders for your overall health. From the calming  rustle of leaves in a forest to the soothing sounds of waves at the beach, I’ll explore  why nature is like a supercharged potion for your well-being. Get ready for a journey  into the science behind nature’s perks, and discover simple ways to bring its healing  vibes into your daily routine. 

As a Naturopathic Doctor I prescribe Nature to every patient because it is one of the  most powerful modalities to healing. Simply put Nature is medicine and it’s something  we all have access to in some form or another. My hope is that after reading this blog it  will inspire you to take advantage of what I like to call Vitamin N! 

Nature has a powerful ability to heal and promote well-being, both physically and  mentally. Whether it’s a walk in the park, a hike on the trails, listening to the sound of  water rushing, or simply sitting in your backyard, spending time in nature can provide  numerous health benefits.  

So lets look at some of the ways nature can positively impact our health: 

Reduces stress and anxiety: Nature serves as a natural antidote to the stress and  anxiety that often accompany the hustle and bustle of modern life. The serene  landscapes and calming sounds of nature have a remarkable ability to soothe the mind  and ease tension. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll through a park, the embrace of a forest,  or the rhythmic waves at the beach, these outdoor experiences can trigger a relaxation  response in the body. The fresh air, natural light, and the connection with green spaces  have been shown to lower cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress.  Immersing oneself in nature provides a welcome escape, promoting a sense of  tranquility and balance that can significantly alleviate stress and anxiety, contributing to  overall mental well-being. 

Boosts mood: Nature possesses a remarkable ability to lift our spirits and elevate our  mood. The vibrant colors, fresh air, and the gentle sway of trees create a sensory  symphony that can positively impact our emotional well-being. Spending time in  natural surroundings stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s feel-good  chemicals, fostering a sense of happiness and contentment. The tranquility and  serenity found in natural settings have been linked to reduced feelings of anger,  tension, and fatigue, creating a conducive environment for a brighter and more positive  outlook on life. Embracing nature’s embrace can be a simple yet powerful strategy to  enhance mood and promote a sense of overall well-being. 

Improves physical health: Engaging with nature offers a plethora of benefits for  physical health, creating a symbiotic relationship between our bodies and the natural 

world. Outdoor activities like walking, hiking, or even a leisurely stroll in the park  contribute to increased physical activity, promoting cardiovascular health and muscular  strength. Exposure to natural light aids in the synthesis of vitamin D, crucial for bone  health and immune function. Moreover, time spent in nature has been associated with  lower blood pressure, reduced inflammation and reduced levels of the stress hormone  cortisol, contributing to overall cardiovascular well-being. Breathing in fresh air rich in  oxygen, as opposed to indoor air, supports respiratory health and enhances lung  capacity. 

Increases creativity: Studies have shown that spending time in nature can improve  creative thinking and problem-solving skills. It can help individuals to think more clearly  and come up with new ideas. 

Enhances social connections: Nature can also be a great way to connect with others.  Whether it’s a group hike, chatting with a neighbour while sitting outside, or meeting up  with others in an outdoor space – being in nature can provide opportunities for social  interaction and connection. 

So as you can see connecting with nature is good for our health!  

In recent years we have seen so much more research being done on nature and the  impacts on our health. With so much scientific evidence on its benefits, it is something  we really cannot afford to overlook. Here is some of that research as it relays to  different nature settings so that you can see the powerful effect Mother Nature has on  our wellbeing.  

• Blue mind science is the study of water environments and the resultant health  benefits that we get from being around water. Research has shown that being around  water (this can be anything from a stream, river, ocean etc.) can reduce pain scores,  lower stress and anxiety, it increases an overall sense of well-being and happiness, it  results in a lower heart and breathing rate and it reduces cortisol levels in the body.  What they found in the study was that those individuals who showed evidence of the  greatest stress before being around some form of water showed the greatest bodily  relaxation when they were around water. (Reference: PMID: 29465568) 

• When we get outdoors we expose ourselves to sunlight. Sun exposure positively  impacts our health by improving our sleep, regulating our circadian rhythm,  maintaining strong bones, improving your immune system, boosting mood and  improving stress. Spending time outside and getting enough sunlight can help us feel  happier, healthier, and more energized. (Reference PMID: 15585788) 

• Forest bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese practice that involves  immersing oneself in a forest environment. Some of the massive benefits from being  around trees include: 

• Helping to promote relaxation and reduce feelings of stress and it helps to lower  blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

• Improving immune function, being around trees has been shown to increase the  activity of natural killer cells, which are a key component of our immune system. 

• Forest bathing helps to improve mood, promoting feelings of calm and tranquility  and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Personally, one of my favourite things to do when I am around trees is to hug them.  Hugging a tree increases the level of a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone is  responsible for feeling calm and emotionally bonding. Hugging a tree can help us feel  more grounded and centered in our bodies. This can help us feel more present and  focused, and can promote feelings of inner peace and calm. And while it might not be  for everyone, it can be a simple and powerful way to connect with nature and promote  health and well-being. I challenge you to give it a try and let me know what you think! 

There are many ways to incorporate nature into your life, even if you live in an urban  area. Here are some tips: 

• Take a walk in a nearby park or nature trail.  

• Incorporate plants into your home or workspace (yes this is still considered nature) • Sit outside and enjoy your morning coffee or tea and reap some of the benefits of  sunlight 

• Go camping or spend time in a cabin in the woods. 

• Join a community gardening group or start your own garden. 

Overall, spending time in nature can have numerous benefits for your health and well being. So, take some time to step outside and connect with the natural world around  you. Every episode outside is an opportunity to access the healing power of nature.  Your mind and body will thank you. After all, nature is medicine. 

I will leave you with this quote from Gary Snyder: 

“ Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” 

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Barb Woegerer, ND