Experience Coastal Air Without Leaving the City

As cities develop and office jobs rise, most of the world’s population is in danger of a sedentary lifestyle. Such lifestyles are affecting our health and the health of our children. In fact, a recent study from the BBC stated that “children aged five to sixteen spend an average of 6.5 hours a day in front of a screen”. While we may feel a momentary relief of stress and entertainment through technology, there are far more rewards that nature can offer us. From finding peace to strengthening brain functions, and improving your health, nature is waiting to improve your life and you do not even need to leave your home.

Why is nature restorative?

In our urban environments we are constantly stimulated by city noises, technology, advertisements, appointments, and so many more stressors that naturally occur on average days.  Kaplan and Kaplan published some of the first research on the benefits of nature’s restorative characteristics. In their research they refer to urban stressors as “hard fascinations” which ultimately leads to cognitive fatigue.

On the contrary, our presence in nature surrounds us with simulants that bring feelings of peace and fulfilment. Such stimulants from nature are named “soft fascinations.” The sound of ocean waves, feeling a gush of fresh air, and hearing the wind through the trees are all examples of restorative “soft fascinations” that present rest from cognitive fatigue. Follow along through this article to learn how you can achieve the benefits of nature, no matter where you are.

Find Peace and Tranquility

We can escape the constant noises and stressors that come daily by welcoming nature into your life. Several recent studies show that activities in nature such as gardening and walking can fight high levels of stress. Simply stepping outside to smell the flowers, riding a bike, joining a yoga class in the park, or planting a garden can bring many benefits to our metal and physical health.

Improve Your Health

There are many benefits to stepping outside for your daily dose of exercises, such as fighting off vitamin D deficiencies, myopia, osteoporosis, depression, ADD, and type-2 diabetes, which are all on the rise due to the effects of life indoors.  If your town or city does not have parks, walks or areas designated to nature filled physical activities, plan times to escape to nature. Planning trips to rural areas, beaches, and parks will help you get out and enjoy the benefits of being outside. Until your great escape, stay active with stretching and exercise on your balcony, self-made “Nature Zone” (see below) or enclosed grass patch. Breathing in coastal air after your physical activities will bring you that much closer to nature.

Strengthen Your Brain

When our brains are not suffering from cognitive fatigue we are capable of clearer thinking. One study showed employees who could observe views of nature such as a grass patch or green grass roof were more productive and rejuvenated.  In addition, the US Boston Globe revealed evidence of hospital patients who had a quicker recovery time when they could view trees from their room’s window. The same goes for those to gaze upon images of forests and nature. Even just glancing at the outdoors and absorbing the sight helps our bodies feel similar effects of “soft fascinations,” which allows more concentration and a refreshed mind.

Welcome Nature Inside

Enjoying nature usually means spending time doing activities outdoors, but that does not necessarily mean it is the only way to reap the benefits of nature. For most of us, problems arise when there are no spots outside to find peace and tranquility. For example, maybe your street is a construction zone in the town with the nearest park being surrounded by passing cars. In that case, create your own “Nature Zone.” Find a spot with natural light. If possible, open a window to let a fresh breeze into your space. Fill the Nature Zone with indoor plants, tree stumps, pinecones and other natural trinkets. Use textiles and furniture made of earthy materials. Listen to nature sounds through headphones to block out any city noises. Sit and meditate or go through a yoga routine as you soak in the natural elements in the space around you. Indulge in some fresh coastal air while you are rejuvenating in your corner of tranquility.  

Your Escape Awaits

You do not need to travel far to escape the stresses of daily life. Many studies show you do not even need to be physically outdoors. While immersion in the great outdoors is the best way to fully reap the benefits of nature, there are many ways to find peace, strengthen your brain, and improve your health just by bringing nature into your home and daily life. 

What ways do you welcome nature into your home? Let us know your strategies and thoughts in the comments.

From our friend and colleague, Ms. Mariah Swigart - 2018

Sources:

http://edepot.wur.nl/119329

http://archive.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/01/04/how_the_city_hurts_your_brain/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/05/26/viewing-nature-can-help-your-brain-work-better-study-finds/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ab088772679c

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/a-prescription-for-better-health-go-alfresco

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/08/why.gardening.good/index.html

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322910.php

http://willsull.net/resources/270-Readings/ExpNature1to5.pdf 

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