How Nature Gives Us Greater Focus and Balance
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” -- John Muir
Before you start reading please know you can now watch Hanni share her thoughts on this topic on our YouTube Channel. or just keep reading…
With everything happening in the world recently, we’ve all needed a bit of a “time-out.” Time to just relax and chill…whether that includes indulging in your favorite Netflix series or mass purchasing on Amazon.
There’s one activity that can restore balance to even the most stressed out individual…a walk in nature. Turns out, walking in nature has significant benefits beyond the physical which include creating greater focus, life balance and enhanced well-being.
My Personal Revelations on Nature Walking
My husband recently commented, ”You seem more spiritual, focused, and balanced…. you live with greater ease and vitality.” Wow, what a compliment, right? It seems all of my COVID-19 walking has immeasurable mental/spiritual side effects.
I didn’t intend at the start of quarantine to become this ultra-walker. It was a bit of an unintended consequence of being cooped up all day and not able to go out to any stores or socialize with friends. Exercise has always been a constant for me, something I look to do every day as part of my daily routine. Whereas the how changed some during COVID-19, the desire did not. I was incredibly thankful every day the greenways stayed open and I could get out for a run/walk.
Little did I know that this daily time would lead me back to a truer and deeper connection to myself, enhanced spiritual awareness and awareness of everything around me. What started out as a self-challenge to reach 100 walking miles the month of June, turned into a goal of 200 miles. I realized how much peace and joy I received from my daily walks outside in nature.
It was a time I looked forward to each day.
Before the pandemic I didn’t have as much time in my schedule. Responsibilities like all the school stuff, swim car pools and just plain running around, in addition to my work schedule took up most of my weeks. But suddenly, I had the one commodity I always wanted more of, TIME. Time to myself, time to be in nature, time to explore the forgotten parts of myself.
I was so busy running around to soothe and please everyone else I had forgotten the deeper parts of myself. Walking in nature, I could reconnect to the truth of who I am.
In doing so, I developed an inner peace and wisdom I had never known.
My Routine Evolved
First, I listened to my usual self-help/discovery podcasts. Then, I started listening to the fun songs from my youth…the 80’s. Wow, my favorite tunes that had long been forgotten. This put a little spring in my step. The added burst sent me from walking to running and back to walking again. It didn’t seem to matter how long or how far, just that I felt the joy of the moment, whatever that might be.
I started to go at different times of the day and came to really enjoy the morning sunrise. There’s something about being in nature, nestled amongst the mighty trees and watching the sun rise and brighten everything up. It is spiritual like the closest one can get to God. The divine feels like just a touch away.
Nature, in the most basic and purest sense, brings us back to our roots by reminding us of what is essential in our lives. As the seasons change, we are reminded of the natural cycles of life which we will ALL experience. Spring, summer, fall and winter, some seasons are more challenging than others and this is the ebb and flow of life, the ups and downs. However, there is always one constant, that the flowers will always bloom again, the grass will be green again, things will be refreshed, renewed and restored.
This rhythm is what we can look forward to as we spend time in nature. Nature also teaches us that it can provide nourishment and let us flourish. Or, in a snap, take away lives with impunity. It speaks to the fragility of life and reminds us to be grateful. Things can change in the blink of an eye.
Scientific Benefits of Nature Walking
“In clinical studies, we have proven that 2 hours of nature sounds a day significantly reduces stress hormones up to 800% and activates 500-600 DNA segments known to be responsible for healing and repairing the body.” -- Dr. Joe Dispenza
These psychological benefits are well documented by PositivePsychology.com as noted by the following research:
Nature helps in regulate emotions and improves memory functions. A study on the cognitive benefits of nature found that subjects who took a nature walk did better on a memory test than the subjects who walked down the urban streets (Berman, Jonides, Kaplan, 2008).
Nature walks benefit people suffering from depression (Shern et al., 2014). Studies show that people suffering from mild to major depressive disorders showed significant mood enhancement when exposed to nature. Not only that, but they also felt more motivated and energized to recover and get back to normalcy (Berman, Kross, Kaplan, 2012).
Recent investigations revealed that being outdoors reduces stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Besides that, it also makes us immune to allied problems like hypertension and tachycardia (Lee J, 2011).
Breathing in nature gives us wholesome sensory awareness. When we spend time outdoors, we are more mindful of what we see, what we hear, what we smell, and what we feel.
Are you trying to find the time to get outside and enjoy the benefits of nature in the midst of it all? If so, we are here to help. Our JOYVIAL team of professional, on-demand health coaches help you find the time in your life to do the things that nourish your soul. We keep you energized every step of the way as you integrate new habits and start living a life you LOVE. Call us today at 1-866-JOVIAL to schedule your free coaching session or click here to get started.