As humans, we are constantly interacting with our natural environments. For example, fresh air and sunlight are vital to our existence. Fresh air provides oxygen to keep each cell functioning. Sunlight provides us with vitamin D – which is integral for bone health and immunity.
The healing power of nature transcends the physical – we can experience it mentally and emotionally too. Spending time in the great outdoors provides therapeutic effects that are uniquely unmatched.
The benefits of nature on the mind and emotions
Being present: most patterns of thinking focus on the past or the future. This can lead to feelings of sadness and/or worry. However, the past may be nebulous and the future a mystery, but the present is a reality. Being surrounded by nature can draw us back to the present moment.
Being still: spending time outdoors can give us a break from the stimulation caused by too much screen time, traffic or current affairs. It can be a great way to keep our minds focused as opposed to having our attention split in various directions.
Being refreshed: green spaces have been shown to put our minds at ease and to mentally recharge us. This can lead to new inspiration and creativity, an increase in motivation and productivity, and an overall feeling of happiness.
How to spend time in nature
While just being outdoors surrounded by nature is advantageous in itself, there are activities you can pursue to more fully immerse and maximise the benefits.
Physical activity: physical activity does not have to be limited to a full cardio workout or a marathon. Find things you enjoy, whether solo (like hiking or surfing), in a group setting (volleyball), or even something as gentle as a walk on the beach. All the while, you are benefitting from the healing effects of nature.
Meditation: you can engage with your environment using your mind, body and spirit by closing your eyes and breathing deeply, grounding yourself barefoot on the grass, or with calming and repetitive activities like gardening.
Take mental pictures: watching the sunrise, sunset, the moon or the ocean can both inspire and relax. It also brings your mind back to the present. Remember to listen for any birds or the sound of waves crashing.
The body has the ability to heal itself using the nature within. Similarly, it can also make use of the nature without as a form of therapy. Remember that as humans, we are never really apart from nature. We are nature: just like other living creatures, we require air, water, sunlight and sustenance to live.
Being exposed to nature reduces feelings of stress, anger and sadness while increasing cognitive function, contentment and resilience. And for the days that you cannot be outside, surround yourself with indoor plants or even photos of nature which have been shown to have similar effects to the real thing.
The Nature’s Embrace Retreat at Chiva-Som
Chiva-Som’s private beachfront setting is ideal for physical and mental reset. Seven acres of landscaped gardens immerse guests in the healing effects of nature. Peace pervades, as does a refreshing sea breeze.
The Nature’s Embrace programme includes a walk through a local mangrove forest, meditation on a quiet hilltop, learning to cook with all-organic ingredients, and wellness treatments that draw on the powers of herbs.