The way we are living our high-tech, hyper-connected, stimulus-rich lives can be very exciting, meaningful, rewarding… and stressful.
Ongoing exposure to highly stimulating environments can take a significant toll on our nervous system, endocrine (hormonal) system, and immune system.
But we do have a very powerful antidote. Nature.
Research over the last 30 years has demonstrated that connectedness and exposure to nature is linked to a range of mental and physical health benefits including:
- increased positive emotion, vitality, and life satisfaction;
- reduced pain and faster hospital recovery;
- stronger feelings of connectedness with others, greater sense of community, lower levels of violence and aggression, and a better capacity to cope with life’s demands.
But how much nature do we need?
A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan has helped to answer this question. They found that taking a “nature-pill” involving spending 20 minutes in a “place that brings a sense of contact with nature” was enough to significantly reduce stress hormones in saliva samples.
There are many things we can do to enhance our wellbeing and help protect us against stress and illbeing. But ultimately, there may be nothing more more broadly effective, efficient, and powerful than a short daily stroll through the park.