Spend more Time in Nature!
No doubt, we are spending way too much time indoors. We sit in an office, at home, often in front of a laptop, a smartphone, or a TV. Tons of (often useless) information and (terrible) news bombards us. One of the easiest ways to distract our minds and do something for our well-being is to spend more time in nature (and I have to admit that I am not doing this often)! Nature is a straightforward remedy for many problems, and – it's (mostly) free of charge.
Being a "city boy", I always feel like a newborn when listening to the noise of the ocean, smelling pine trees, or just staring at a lake in the middle of pristine wilderness. International studies reveal the positive impact of nature on our well-being, our health and – yes! – even on our creativity. David Strayer, a psychologist at the University of Utah, recommends to interrupt work as often as possible to enjoy nature – and, as a result, to work more efficiently. He let a few students hike through the wilderness for three days and then solve a few tasks – results were 50% better than before. Says Strayer, "When we spend time in nature, essential things are happening with us."
Other studies report that hiking through a forest can reduce stress hormones by up to 16%. It is no secret that overweight and depressed people are some of the biggest challenges for human beings these days. One of the reasons is that people spend too much time sitting indoors. Sometimes even just living next to trees and meadows can increase our efficiency. A study of an international team of scientists in Toronto shows that people living in streets with above-average trees' quantities suffered much less from heart and metabolism problems. How cool is that?
Nature and Happiness
The Harvard School of Public Health states that US Americans spend more time in their cars than outdoor. Can you believe this? And there is so much fantastic nature in this vast country - think of all the National Parks, rivers, lakes, beaches. We often underestimate the effect of happiness through being in nature.
Finnish doctors recommend a minimum of 5 hours per month spent in nature to prevent melancholia. There are so-called "power hiking trails" in Finland that encourage mindfulness, with signboards saying, "Squat down and touch a plant." There are currently three healing forests in Korea. In this country, many people suffer from stress, digital dependence, and enormous pressure to perform. As a result, the plan is for 34 more.
There is no better description than the statement by Stephen Kaplan of the University of Michigan. "Imagine a treatment that has no side effects. It is easy to get, increases your mental capacity, and does not cost anything – go out and enjoy nature."
So be it. My plan for next year is to spend more time in the mountains, forests, and – whenever time allows – close to an ocean (yeah - Canary Islands, here I come!). Take a deep breath and shut down your electronic devices.
Tip: read the blog of Birgit-Cathrin Duval, an award-winning German journalist who spends a lot of her time in the great outdoors. And that is easy for Birgit - she and her husband have left the city to live in the middle of Germany`s Black Forest where she has become a nature guide. You will also find Birgit on Instagram.
"The Black Forest is much more than a landscape", says Birgit. It is a place full of stories, legends and myths which has been embossed by people. Even today, the Black Forest is surrounded by mysterious myths. It is a true place of power, you can feel it anywhere."
Mark Coleman has written an excellent book about mindfulness and nature - worth reading (and the same goes for his website)!