Why Nature Is Important To Your Health & Happiness

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Want to be happier? Spend more time interacting with and caring for the natural world! At least, that’s what this recent nature study found…

If being in nature always seems to make you feel good, you’re not imagining things. In fact, more and more studies are demonstrating the positive impact that exposure to the natural world has on human health and wellbeing.

In a recent nature challenge conducted in the UK, participants were tasked with “doing something wild” every day for 30 days. The 18,500 participants were asked to take part in a survey before the challenge started, once it had finished, and again 2 months later. The survey asked questions about how connected they felt with nature, how they interacted with nature, and how they felt about their health and happiness.

The study showed that there was a scientifically significant increase in people’s health, happiness, connection to nature and active nature behaviours, such as feeding the birds and planting flowers for bees – not just throughout the challenge but sustained for months after the challenge had been completed.

And that’s not all. Impressively, says Lucy McRobert, who helped put together the survey,

…The number of people reporting their health as “excellent” increased by 30% and this improvement in health being predicted by the increase in happiness, this relationship is mediated by the change in connection to nature. It adds to a growing body of evidence that shows definitively that we need nature for our health and wellbeing.

For example, children exposed to the natural world showed increases in self-esteem. They also felt it taught them how to take risks, unleashed their creativity and gave them a chance to exercise, play, and discover. In some cases nature can significantly improve the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), providing a calming influence and helping them concentrate.

And for people suffering from physical illness or mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, interacting with nature can help people control their symptoms or even recover, alongside conventional medication.

“Nature isn’t a miracle cure for diseases,” says McRobert, “But by interacting with it, spending time in it, experiencing it and appreciating it we can reap the benefits of feeling happier and healthier as a result.”

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…There is already research evidence that exposure to nature can reduce hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure), respiratory tract and cardiovascular illnesses; improve vitality and mood; benefit issues of mental wellbeing such as anxiety; and restore attention capacity and mental fatigue. But more than that, feeling a part of nature has been shown to significantly correlate with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, mindfulness, and lower cognitive anxiety.

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And it’s a reciprocal relationship because as important as nature has been shown for our health and happiness, our interactions with the natural world are just as important for protecting nature and the environment.

“If we can help people to connect with nature, that’s not just good for them, it’s great news for nature,” said McRobert. Because, she explains, the more people that care intrinsically for their local environment and value the positive impact it has on their own lives, the more they’ll want to protect it from destruction.

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“We hope that [these] results show how nature isn’t just a nice thing to have – although it has a huge value in itself – it’s fundamentally important for our health, wellbeing and happiness and that ought to be reflected in our education system, in the way we treat the physically or mentally ill, in the way we build infrastructure and houses and in how we access and protect green spaces in cities.”

Check out the full article at BBC.com for more info…

 

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