When we think of “being healthy” we tend to focus on the quality of our diet and exercise as the priorities for improving our overall wellness. We often believe that if we perfect our diet and exercise routine, then optimal health (and a neater waist line) will surely follow.
There are moments in all our lives where we’ve been outdoors or in a serene garden and felt soothed by the sound of the wind in the trees and the crisp smell of leaves. Experiencing these profound moments of peace, happiness, or wellness in nature is a universal event and shows that contact with nature is an integral part of our well being as humans.
The theory that our relationship with nature is a fundamental component of maintaining good health suggests there is an innate affiliation between human beings and other living organisms, both flora and fauna.
An evolutionary perspective
Animals often use habitat selection for successful survival, focusing mainly on patterns of tree density and openness of view. Early humans were no different; a preference for living near fresh water and green plants would indicate greater food availability and chance of survival.
While we have now evolved to a mostly indoor environment, this recent development (much like our diet) has changed drastically in a comparatively short amount of time.
A new term being used these days is the idea of a “nature deficit disorder” suggesting that children and adults who spend too much time staring at screens may develop attention deficits, hyperactivity, or depression.
So while we may not be able to change our immediate situations there are little changes that we can make to our lives that will drastically change our overall health.
- Exercise outside– Take a long walk at your local park (rug up if it’s cold) rather than hitting the same treadmill everyday in your fluorescent-lit gym.
- Grow an indoor garden – Studies show that indoor plants can boost mood, improve air quality, and reduce anxiety and fatigue.
Our relationship with nature is a vital component of our well being and one often neglected due to the pressures of modern life, but by making small changes to our lives we can begin the transition back into natural health the way our ancestors did.