Nature and Your Well-Being: An Intimate Connection

16-03-2022

Posted By: EnvisionWell

Nature and Your Well-Being: An Intimate Connection

Nature and Your Well-Being: An Intimate Connection

 

Time spent in nature has been on the decline since the 1990s according to studies of park visitations, fishing license sales, campground attendance and other historical records. Turns out, however, that spending time in nature is fundamental to our well-being. This is something we all viscerally learned (if we didn’t know it already) during the COVID-19 lockdown. Stuck at home, getting out for a walk became our greatest refuge – if we were lucky enough to have a safe and green space to take a walk in, that is.  

In his book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, published in 2006, author Richard Louv documented growing evidence about how important time in nature is to the developmental health of children. In his follow-up book, The Nature Principle, he illustrates how important it is for adults also.  In this recent YouTube video, the author answers five common questions about nature-deficit disorder:

 

 

Since the publishing of Louv’s first book, many more studies have been conducted on the effects of nature on our health, all proving in various ways that nature is, indeed, critical to our well-being. They all “point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive functioning,” says Louv.

In a study of residents in Denmark, researchers examined data from more than 900,000 residents born between 1985 and 2003 and found that children who lived in neighborhoods with more green space had a “reduced risk of many psychiatric disorders later in life, including depression, mood disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and substance use disorder. For those with the lowest levels of green space exposure during childhood, the risk of developing mental illness was 55% higher than for those who grew up with abundant green space.” Thankfully, many cities are working to increase their green spaces – and blue spaces (near bodies of water) – to facilitate bringing more nature into people’s everyday lives.

A recent article from the Greater Good Magazine cites a number of studies that point to four key ways nature can protect our well-being:

  1. Nature reduces stress.
  2. Nature helps us feel restored.
  3. Nature helps stave off depression, anxiety, and physical complaints.
  4. Nature makes us happier and more satisfied with life.

So, how much time in nature is needed?

According to a 2019 study of 20,000 people, the answer to this question is two hours a week. These two hours can be spread out over the course of the week, or experienced all at once, but two hours was the minimum time needed to experience the health benefits of time in nature.

 

 

 

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