Can walking in nature really change your life and make you healthier and happier? Science has proven time and time again that nature has a profound effect on our bodies and mental health. The good news is that it’s really easy to create your own connection with the nature all around you.
You may drive or walk past green fields, trees, or the sea on a regular basis, but how much attention do you really give this powerful resource that you have right at your fingertips?
Unless you are a dog owner or already know the benefits, walking in nature is something that you probably don’t do enough of.
Creating A Nature Habit
You may worry about not having enough time to add in yet another healthy habit, but it’s really easy to embrace nature and make it part of your daily routine.
In fact, going for a nature walk is one of THE most effective ways to feel calmer, to help improve your overall mental health, and even to stimulate creativity, so if you are looking at ways to reduce stress and anxiety, why not create a new nature habit?
You can get started with just a short morning walk in your local area, doing some gardening, walking by the sea, or even just taking time to create a nature vision board on Pinterest to inspire you. Whatever you do, the secret is to just get started.
10 Reasons Why Walking In Nature Is Good For You
- Improved sleep
Sunlight regulates your body’s melatonin production which in turn will help you to get a better nights sleep. Not to mention the exercise you’ll be getting with your new nature habit; physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration.
- Enhances creativity
When you go for a long walk, you’re engaging in a form of low-level activity. You need to think a little about where you’re going and how to coordinate your feet, but nothing too strenuous. This in turn prevents you from getting bored and frustrated, while freeing up your mind to daydream, form new ideas and think creatively about solving problems.
- It helps you unplug
Provided you don’t succumb to the temptation of your smart phone, walking in nature is a great way to step into a quiet world away from the busyness of life and constant notifications. FOMO, social media and tech related stress is a biggie for many business owners and nature can help you to reduce some of that tech tension.
- Increases production of vitamin D
Walking outside increases your production of vitamin D. Vitamin D acts like a ‘master hormone’ and can help to boost other hormones that improve mood.
- Lowers levels of cortisol
Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and for good reason. It is abundant in your body when you are suffering with stress and can contribute to a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. Walking in nature can help to lower levels of cortisol in your body, in fact, a review of 24 Shinrin-yoku (Forest Bathing) studies confirmed that simply looking at forest landscapes reduces cortisol by 13.4%, while walking in the woods decreases it by 15.8%.
- Increases ‘feel good’ hormones
As well as melatonin, when you are walking in nature, you’ll also start to release more happy hormones giving you a natural high. Endorphins can help reduce pain and increase feelings of wellness.
- Brings you back to what’s important
Maybe even on an evolutionary level: in the wild, the sight of lush green trees meant that we were approaching shelter, supplies, and resources – nourishment. Today, even looking at the colour green on its own has been shown to lower the heart rate and to help improve calmness.
- Encourages you to BREATHE
Yes you already breathe, but do you really BREATHE? As humans living in a fast-paced, stressful world, our breathing has become more shallow and less intentional. Walking in nature encourages deep, rhythmical breathing, which in turn stimulates the body’s parasympathetic reaction, helping you to feel calmer. To learn more about breath work, check out this video interview on YouTube.
- Boosts your energy levels
There is no air as pure as the air you’ll breathe when you walk amongst trees, away from the fumes and toxins of built up areas. As you breathe in the oxygen from the natural environment, you’ll feel invigorated and energised.
- Increases your spiritual well-being
Nature can have a profound effect on your spiritual growth. As you spend more time connecting with the world around you, the trees which are hundreds of years old, the birdsong, the earthy scents and the beauty of nature, you may find you experience a deeper level of happiness too.
Above all, walking in nature will reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and improve your overall health and happiness – from personal experience, it’s a win/win situation.
Finding Nature Guides
If you’re feeling apprehensive about getting out there and walking in nature on your own, you might like to consider trying a guided event first.
There are lots of great resources online for finding nature guides; this could encompass the following:
- Natural Mindfulness
- Forest Bathing
- Forest Therapy
- Nature Retreats
- Nature-based Activities
- Walking groups
A great place to start is Nature Connection World. I trained with Ian Banyard when I completed the Mindfulness in Nature course and can recommend the website for finding guides in your area.
So, make time for walking – not just as a way to get from point A to point B, but to walk for the sake of walking, just because it’s enjoyable and good for you.
It’s good for the soul and even better for your mental health and well-being.
Have you found walking in nature has had a positive impact on your life? Share your story below…