Daily Encouragement: Counselor’s Corner by Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC :Benefits of Connecting to Nature: “Green Therapy”
I love being outside and I love nature, the sounds of birds singing, butterflies flying, and seeing all the magnificent flowers. Nature teaches! Being one-fourth Choctaw Indian I can say that I have always had an admiration for nature. I did not always realize that God the Father was the creator of all the beauty around me, not Mother Nature as I used to think or as most Native Americans refer to the “Great Mystery.” Being outdoors connects me to God more than anything else. I can hear God more clearly outside and I usually experience a calm, peaceful and tranquil state. Jesus is so cool how he has not asked me to give up part of my culture (love and total respect of nature) to connect with Him. In fact, I understand Jesus more when I am admiring His many amazing creatures or when I am out among the trees, grass, and flowers.
Nature is good for us, and can have mental and physical health benefits! “Green therapy” is gaining the attention of scientists, nature enthusiasts, and people who are in search of alleviating symptoms of depression. Being in nature has always been known by Native Americans and Asian cultures as being beneficial. Science is now identifying reasons that we need time in nature. A study was conducted in those that lived closest to a park or green space were less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. Other studies have found that nature can prevent mental health disorders, and connecting with nature can help lift depression, improve energy, and boost overall well-being and mental health.
Reflect and ponder: Do you need more peace and less anxiety? Do you need a greater awareness of God’s creative side? Try some time in nature and you will experience a oneness with the Creator of the Universe, and you will be in complete awe of His creations. This sense of awe of God’s creation all around us not only connects us greater to God, but increases our peace and overall mental well-being.
What are some benefits to connecting with nature:
1. Walking in nature can improve your short-term memory and decrease depression, anxiety, and enhances positivity.
2. Restores mental fatigue. Your mental energy can bounce back by being out in nature.
3. Reduces stress. Even if you can’t go outdoors if you are trapped in an office all day, get by a window that represents nature well.
4. An increase in creativity. A stroll in the great outdoors can give you a boost of creativity to start a project, write a book, paint, or solve a problem.
5. New research is coming out that implies that being out in nature can stimulate the production of anti-cancer proteins, and can increase your immune system. Vitamin D is produced by sunlight and getting time outdoors with (limited) sun exposure can aid the immune system even more.
6. After some time outdoors, your mental health can improve. When you combine exercise outdoors you get a double benefit. Outdoor walks can be useful clinically as a way to treat major depressive disorders. When surrounded by green nature your self-esteem and mood are bolstered.
7. Indoor air is almost 70% more contaminated than outdoor air! Get out and get some fresh air or open your windows.
8. Being around nature reduces anger, fear, and reduces muscle tension and the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Nature distracts us from pain and is soothing to our souls.
9. A lack of “nature depreciation” (being in front of computer/TV daily) has been associated with higher levels of depression.
Tips if you can’t make it outdoors or it’s a rainy day:
1. Stuck indoors, get close to a window that you can look at nature. Open your windows or doors to let in fresh, outdoor air.
2. Get a picture of a nature scene, just looking at a nature scene can have similar effects as if you really did go out in nature (however, nothing is better than really going outside and experiencing nature).
3. Get a plant or some type of greenery to fill your office or home.
MEDIATE ON THESE SCRIPTURES:
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Job 12:7-8
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-His eternal power and Divine nature-have been made clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20