Every time I return to the city after time spent in nature, I seem to have a fresh perspective on life. The reality of our modern day lifestyle is that most of us don’t have the opportunity to spend our entire lives in the great outdoors and often live in an urban environment.
A recent Stanford Study found that walking in nature yields measurable mental benefits and may reduce the risk of depression. Given that more than half of the world’s population lives in urban settings, the study investigated the difference in individuals who walked 90 minutes in a grassland area with oak trees versus those who walked the same distance on a busy street.
The results clearly showed that those candidates who had walked in nature had a difference in their brain that projected less negative emotions than those who had walked in the urban environment. This finding is significant as prior studies had also identified that city dwellers have a 20 per cent higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40 per cent higher risk of mood disorders as compared to people in rural areas.
So, how do you get your dose of nature whilst living and working in an urban environment? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
1. Enjoy your lunch in a park – get away from the desk and enjoy your lunch under the shade of a tree
2. Go camping – drag out the camping gear and escape to your local State or National park for a weekend in the bush
3. Farm stay – nothing like waking up on a farm with crisp fresh air and sound of a rooster crowing
4. Check out the stars – find a clear space away from the city lights to admire the stars and ponder the universe
5. Take a picnic – time to stock up on fresh bread, great cheese and some gourmet treats to head out for a picnic
6. Once a month – mark on your calendar one weekend a month where you commit to getting into nature and turn of your phone for the day!
7. Take a dip in the ocean – get down to your closest ocean or river and dive right in — a swim in a natural environment always makes you feel alive — maybe take a moment to explore the local rock pools to see what you find
8. Go for a bush walk – find a local bush walking area and take yourself on a 90 minute sojourn — observe the birds, the insects and the sounds of the bush.
9. Buy a plant – can’t get to nature, bring nature to you. Plants have been proven to have excellent benefits for indoor spaces and air quality
10. Watch a sunset – find yourself an excellent vantage point to watch the sun go down