Our connection with nature is fundamental to our health and well-being. The lives of our ancestors were intricately intertwined with nature, and many cultures looked to the earth for wisdom and healing. It may seem obvious that nature is important, but many people in this world are completely nature-deprived, and science is busy trying to explain why, exactly, we need it so much.
Now, scientists are posing questions that could only be contemplated by modern humans like noticing how you feel when you look out your window at a concrete wall compared to a beautiful meadow, ocean, or sunset. If you were to think about these two scenarios, right now, I’m pretty sure you would notice a difference in how your body reacts. So is it any wonder our bodies react differently to being surrounded by a concrete jungle versus being out in the wonders of nature?
If there is a difference in how you feel when it comes to looking at nature from your window, imagine how positive the effects are when you are actually immersing your senses in nature in real time—when you’re actually feeling the breeze caress your skin, the sun warming your body, the smell of the ocean air, or the taste of sea salt on your lips. I bet you noticed your body begin to relax by the mere descriptions of an experience in nature.
Once again, if thinking about nature—or looking at it through the window—leads to positive changes in our mood and the tension you’re holding in your body, imagine how beneficial it actually is to be IN nature, and conversely, how detrimental it can be to your health to be devoid or separated from nature.
Human beings evolved intricately connected to nature for millions of years. The nomadic life of hunting and gathering stopped only about 10,000 years ago when agriculture took over, and even then, our ancestors lived out of homes made from the earth and ate foods directly grown from the earth. They traveled without cars or technology and healed the sick with wild herbs. They would rise with the sun and retire with the sunset—with the stars overhead guiding their way.
Now, we live in a world in which technology has taken over, distracting us from our need to be outdoors or connected to nature. And though it has allowed for many incredible advances in health, it has also kept us from being connected to something that we, as human beings, need in our lives to feel optimal.