How Can Nature Help Support Happiness in Pursuit of Our Goals?
Here are some of the many ways nature helps support our goals:
One of the most common goals in our society is to get fit and/or lose weight. Sure, you could get on a treadmill, but why exercise somewhere boring like a gym when physical fitness and the great outdoors go hand in hand?
There are countless ways to be active outside. Maybe it’s recreational, like a hike in the woods, or maybe it’s practical, such as chopping wood or foraging for food in the wild. Either way, getting active in nature is a fantastic way to improve health and wellbeing — all while oxygenating the lungs and soaking up vitamin D from the sun (a proven way to feel happier, especially during the winter months).
We all know that stress is hugely damaging to our health. Tight deadlines and the expectation to be connected 24/7 cause many people to experience cumulative stress, wreaking havoc on the body and mind. Forest therapy can do wonders to decrease stress — both in the body and the mind. The tall trees of the forest help us gain a greater sense of perspective and realize how small our problems may be in relation to the expansive universe around us.
Naturally, exercising in nature pumps out feel-good endorphins. But spending time outdoors in absolute stillness (a.k.a. forest bathing) also helps release stressors. Forest bathing is nature-based healing in action. It’s similar to savasana, the final resting pose in a yoga practice. Some people misinterpret savasana as “just lying there” when in actuality it’s the most beneficial part of a yoga practice. This is when we recline and receive the payback of the efforts of class, achieving true balance. When we take this experience into nature, the feeling of peace is magnified.
Forest bathing allows us to soak in the benefits and wisdom of the woods and, in turn, tune into our own true nature.
The psychological impact of time spent outdoors is significant. It is especially necessary because of our busy, constantly connected lifestyles. The Western world spends way too much time sitting, glued to a screen — whether that’s a computer at work, a television at home, or a cellphone en route from one to the other. Our increased dependence on technology has created a variety of troubling mental health problems. Many people in the modern world experience a feeling of immense dissatisfaction, but can’t quite put their finger on what’s wrong.
A good first step is to create distance from the fabricated reality of TV and the distorted, puddle-deep world of social media. Connect with the outdoor world around you instead! By unplugging, we can recharge. Treat your time in nature as a meditation, a chance to be fully present. Take some deep breaths, fill your lungs with fresh air, and make every exhale a sigh of relief. Nature offers incredible insights, if only we are quiet enough to listen.
It sounds like a deal too good to be true…but many of nature’s benefits can be accessed for free! Of course, your experience is more enhanced when following the lead of a Certified Forest Therapy Guide.
That said, you can start by simply getting outside and taking up a new hobby. Go for a swim or a skate, depending on the time of year. Take a long walk on a trail you’ve never explored before. Try geocaching.
These are just some examples of fun, inexpensive outdoor activities. And because these activities are experience-based, they tend to produce greater, longer-lasting levels of satisfaction than store-bought things. By spending time outside, you might be saving more than just money; you might be saving your sanity. Know that nature is here to support your growth — today, throughout 2018, and throughout all the rest of your days on beautiful planet Earth.
January 1st: The sun rises, just as it did yesterday. For the world outside, it’s a day like any other. Nature, by its very nature, does what needs to be done. It evolves as it was meant to, and so should we. By becoming better connected with this rhythm of nature — the light alongside the darkness, the cold alongside the warmth — we too can experience both progress and peace in our pursuit of happiness.
Nature does not hurry, and yet everything is accomplished.
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