Author Richard Lou, who published the bestseller “Last Child in the Woods,” wrote about what he called a “nature deficit disorder” in relation to children, but he ultimately became overwhelmed by adults with stories about their own disconnect.
He’s not the only one to come upon this realization. More and more people have noticed a disconnect, which is largely credited to a world that’s constantly surrounded by technology. While communication is easier than ever, the quality of that communication is rapidly decreasing, which is why many are looking to take a step back from technology and reconnect with nature. It’s a good idea for everyone, with numerous benefits, including the following.
Getting back to nature by doing something like taking a walk in the woods has been found to relieve stress by significantly lowering cortisol levels. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, examined subjects’ cortisol levels, immune system responses and nervous system balance when walking in the woods, versus walking in a city environment.
Twelve volunteers were given physiological stress tests before and after walking in the woods, and then the same tests before and after walking in the city. Volunteers were also tested before and after watching images of the forest as well as images of cityscapes, on a television screen. The results revealed that the study participants’ cortisol levels and blood pressure readings were significantly lower after walking in the woods versus walking in the city.
In a study conducted by psychologists from the University of Utah and University of Kansas, backpackers scored 50 percent better on a creativity test after spending four days in nature without any electronic devices like smartphones or laptops.
Study co-author David Strayer, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah, said in a press statement: “This is a way of showing that interacting with nature has real, measurable benefits to creative problem-solving that really hadn’t been formally demonstrated before. It provides a rationale for trying to understand what is a healthy way to interact in the world, and that burying yourself in front of a computer 24/7 may have costs that can be remediated by taking a hike in nature.”
Getting back to nature can help your body heal itself. In addition to all of the health benefits of stress reduction, spending time in nature allows one to connect with mind, body and soul – which can encourage healing from a wide range of chronic illness and disease. Instead of turning to medication to help deal with stress-related conditions like anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, hypertension and digestive disorders, experts say attuning with nature can help break the cycle in a much healthier way.
Spending time outdoors among beautiful scenery, without electronic gadgets, also provides the opportunity to cultivate better relationships by encouraging face-to-face communication as well as a mutual appreciation of nature – whether you take a stroll at the edge of an ocean, hike to a waterfall or walk in the woods alongside a winding stream.
You might just be surprised at what taking regular time outs for reconnecting with nature can do to improve your life.
-The Alternative Daily