Did you know that getting out in nature can be a form of anti-depressant therapy? It turns out it can be a potent happiness booster too. Henry David Thoreau shared a grand appreciation for glory of nature and was famously quoted, “I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”
According to numerous scientific research studies, our connection to nature is highly therapeutic and the glory lies in the simple things that nature has to offer. Florence Williams in her book The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, zeroed in on the science to explain the healing and restorative benefits that nature has to offer. She cites numerous studies using exposure to nature as a healing force for conditions such as PTSD and ADHD. It’s a timely message, as more and more of our lives become chained indoors due to our work and family commitments.
In a study conducted by the Finnish Forest Research Institute, they found that a mere 15 minutes of exposure to nature results in lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as lower levels of perceived stress. They also report that time spent in nature has potent restorative psychological benefits, as well.
Five Simple Hacks
Let’s take the advice and step into nature to capture that natural high. Here are five simple ideas/hacks to deepen your connection with nature…and it’s all free or low cost at $5 or less!
- Step out on a trail walk or coastal walk. San Diego abounds with options such as Coronado beach, La Jolla Beach, or cliff walks in Del Mar or Sunset Cliffs. And how can you beat a short hike at Torrey Pines State Beach?
- Go tide pooling at La Jolla Shores beach or Cabrillo National Monument. Plan accordingly by checking the tide charts .
- Get a double hit of happiness by helping start or contribute to a small community garden. Find out how you can get involved at the San Diego Community Garden Network.
- Visit a park that you haven’t visited before. Yes, I know, you have probably visited Balboa Park! However, did you know that Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the nation, measuring 1,200-acres. So, there is always more to see!
- Enjoy an outdoor travel experience and take a GPS audio tour for just $4.99. We created our first tour in the Village of La Jolla which is known for its splendor, natural beauty and historical charm to travelers and locals alike. On the tour you’ll take in some fun facts about La Jolla’s culture, heritage and history while your guide (me) leads you on your phone and headset. You get to have a little travel adventure – even if it’s in your own hometown! Download the tour by going to the tour at VoiceMaps.
Nature is a form of physical and psychological therapy with benefits that we grossly underestimate. We can readily foster this connection with nature and find ways to rebuild that bond in a way that speaks to us. As John Muir reminds us, “In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” Modern life is creating a significant disconnect to the natural world, so we all need to make a concerted effort to step outdoors and get re-connected. You probably have a couple of favorite ways to re-connect with nature so please share them in the comments below.