Is the Healing Power of Nature an Alternative to Medication?

While diet, exercise and spending time with friends have all been shown to improve wellbeing the one place we forget to turn to for healing is outside.

August 11, 2015
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As human beings we spend 90% of our time indoors. As a result we have become completely disconnected from what would be considered our “natural habitat” leaving us sick, tired, depressed and stressed out.

While diet, exercise and spending time with friends have all been shown to improve wellbeing the one place we forget to turn to for healing is outside. More and more research is supporting the healing effects that the outer landscape can have on our inner landscape, and the importance of returning to nature as a place of reprieve and recovery.

Ask yourself these questions:

When was the last time you felt deeply connected to nature?

When did you most recently feel connected to something sacred? Do you make a conscious effort to get outside every day?

Most of us would be surprised to find how little time we spend even thinking about the importance of nature in our lives let alone the minimal amount of time we spend in it.

Research in the fields of Nature Therapy, Eco-Therapy and Green Therapy reveals that the environment can impact your body and overall wellbeing through the effects that it has on your nervous, endocrine and immunes systems. By studying the human-nature relationship, experts in these fields are concluding more and more that nature is an untapped resource that improves mood and many other states of being that reduce happiness.

If you are living or working in an unpleasant environment you will feel anxious, sad or helpless which in turn elevates your blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension while suppressing your immune system. A pleasing environment reverses that effect, and actually improves your health overall.

If you think about how differently you feel when walking through a park as compared to how you feel on a busy street you’ll realize that the environment profoundly impacts how you feel.

Pros and Cons

As human beings we are social creatures and we’re evolutionarily designed to live as part of nature. We have an inherent ecological wisdom that is wired into our cells so it’s absolutely in our best interest to spend as much time outdoors communing with the natural world as possible.

It’s unnatural to live so separate from something we are so inherently close to. It’s no wonder that as a culture we so often feel disconnected and alone much of the time.

While there is no downside to allowing the natural elements to infuse you with optimal health and wellbeing you may not be in striking distance or close enough to a natural setting to reap the full benefits.

When you live in a concrete jungle it becomes harder to access the prescription of nature, which makes popping a pill seem way easier and faster.

The good news for you is that the research being done in the fields of nature therapy have shown that creating an indoor landscape, or simply looking out at nature through a window has the same effects. In fact patients recovering from surgery have been studied and shown to heal faster when they are facing a window with a view of nature. Even having a plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.

Don’t forget that some of the interactions you have with nature may not seem like they’re healing, but they are. When you feel the freedom and relaxation that comes with gardening, the calm that comes over you when you cuddle with your pet, or when you look up at a tree on a busy urban street you’re connecting with nature.

Fit or Flop

Healing through nature is a definite fit. At a minimum nature is an adjunct to traditional medicine, and at a maximum a replacement for medication. As we become more and more industrialized we move further and further away from our natural needs to be in nature. Making time every day to spend a few moments with reconnected with your natural world will definitely shift your mind and body toward a higher state of wellbeing.

When time doesn’t permit the real thing you can watch a video, listen to nature sounds, spend a few minutes in natural sunlight or look through a nature magazine. The main goal is to reconnect to something sacred or indigenous, and to create a sense of connection with something greater.

It’s important to remember that we cannot utilize nature as a resource without giving back. Relationships are reciprocal and that includes the one we build with our natural environments.

Using nature as a resource for our own benefit is exactly why we see it disappearing every day. You must always show the respect, admiration and awe that nature deserves and we must ingest its beauty with the intention of giving back to the world what we receive.

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