Nature's Health Benefits

From a stroll through a city park to a day spent hiking in the wilderness, any exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and it even upticks one's empathy and cooperation.

Most research so far has focused on green spaces such as parks and forests, and researchers are now
also beginning to study the benefits of blue spaces, places with river and ocean views. 

But luckily, nature comes in all shapes and sizes, and psychological research is still fine-tuning our understanding of its potential benefits. In the process, scientists are charting a course for policymakers and the public to better tap into the healing powers of Mother Nature.

Our environments can sometimes have an enormously negative impact on us. The sensations of what we experiencing at any given moment are affecting not only our mood but also our endocrine, nervous and even immune systems. Distressing surroundings raise heart rate, elevate blood pressure and muscle tension. An agreeable environment, on the contrary, reverses these effects. And usually nature is where we turn to in pursuit of releif .

How does nature nurture us?

All landscapes have their own beauty through which we can rediscover the healing and rejuvenating power of all the great things nature gives us for free.

Enchanting Forests

tree of hope

The woods has always been featured in our fairy-tales and mysteries. However, time spent in the woodlands lowers blood pressurecures hormonal imbalancesreduces the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and not just that. The oxegen rich air from the trees is so revitalizing to people of all ages.As a child, I swore that I could run faster and fall asleep easier in the woods.

As I have aged, I have chosen homes with lots of trees because I literally need the oxegen rich enviroment that the trees provide. It's really lucky that I love being outside. It's the one healthy thing that I do each and everyday.

Just being amoungst the trees has a huge impact on our nervous and endocrine system because of the phytocides the trees produce to protect themselves from insects and other intruders. By inhaling these oils we find balance and calm and improve our immune system function.

Ancient Experiences

Lately people of different cultures got interested in rediscovering the ancient Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, aka forest bathing. It's kin to the concept of sun bathing. The main idea of shinrin-yoku is becoming peaceful when you are in nature: slowing your mind and heart down from your busy life and absorbing the oxegen rich air with all its benifits. Just like you would enjoy the present moment in the sun.

It’s a great time to activate your sense: listen closely to every sound, look up and around you, touch the bark of a tree, make a skin contact with the ground.

If you want to give forest-bathing some extra thought, you definitely need to check out the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.

By getting in touch with nature we recognize that it is a not-so-secret and vital ingredient of all life.

Boundless Plains

Tuscan plains

It may be the last place you'd choose as a vacation destination. Normally plains don’t have the same impact as a seashore or a mountain range. What is there to say? – They don’t immediately strike us as something extraordinary.

But in truth, plains and fields tend to be overlooked.

My grandma lived in the countryside in the middle of nowhere. Where there were no houses there were fields and plains. They unfolded about anywhere you looked. Walking along seemingly endless fields at sunset felt liberating. This sense of freedom imprinted on my memory, and whenever I’m away from the city now, I always get a similar feeling.

Endless Benifits

Nowhere else will you find the skyline that is so vivid and profound. Plains and fields have the power to cultivate a positive mindset and boost the process of healing and recovery. And breathing in fresh air will make things as clear as a bell.

Peaceful Seaside

sea shore

The sea soothes. Watching the waves distracts us from our own problems. After all, it’s been here a long time and we’ve seen nothing that it hasn’t.

Spending time by the sea makes us calmer, happier and more relaxed. Even the smell of sand and sea water make us feel good. The sea has the power to naturally boost mental, physical and emotional health.

Swimming, surfing or snorkeling have obvious benefits, all being exciting physical activities. But even as much as sitting by the water enjoying the view and breathing in the salty sea air can reboot the respiratory system and alleviate the symptoms of asthma, sinus infections, bronchitis and a regular cough. Just one day at the beach makes a big difference.

Minerals of high value

Sea salt is precious. There were times when it was used as a form of payment. It’s a wellspring of many vital minerals, such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium. Its healing quality helps build a stronger immunity, improves brain function and heart health, boosts energy levels and lowers blood sugar. It also promotes healthy pH and electrolyte balance for the smooth functioning of our body.

Magnificent Mountains

foggy mountains

It’s in our genes to be humbled by the grandeur of our natural environment. We get absorbed by the majestic mountain sceneries and in no time become distracted from our own stress and discomfort.

Several studies show that having a view of the mountains from a hospital window can speed up the recovery and even make physical pain more tolerable.

The healing energy of the mountains fuels our body and mind. We feel balanced by their tranquility and silence. When we feel lonely and isolated mountains give us the support we need connecting us to our essence.

Healing Altitudes

Spending time up high supports heart health and significantly reduces risks of heart diseases. High altitudes give our lungs an opportunity to breathe in the freshest air, free of toxins and other harmful pollutants. Mountain air helps people with allergies and other respiratory problems. High chance that you won’t need that allergy relief meds you’ve packed for a hike.

Also, mountains are filled with various pastimes to keep your body busy: hiking, climbing, skiing, camping, canoeing, birdwatching. To name a few.


Lately people of different cultures got interested in rediscovering the ancient Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, aka forest bathing. The main idea of shinrin-yoku is being one-on-one with the nature, slowing down and absorbing the present moment. It’s a great time to activate your sense: listen closely to every sound, look up and around you, touch the bark of a tree, make a skin contact with the ground.

If you want to give forest-bathing some extra thought, you definitely need to check out the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.

I often just set out for a lake or park on a whim to create some fun for the little ones, or to find joy for the bigger kids in my family. I am good at that and enjoying the spontaeous adventure of just taking our cameras out to wander and explore. My brother is the exact opposite thinking that the structure of a planned trip is what makes it a success. He does plan for down time for the kids to just unwind and seems to have plenty of friends and family wanting to go on vacation or an afternoon trip with him.

As we age, we count on how time spent outside, visiting with Mother Nature, improves certain diseases and chronic health conditions such as cancer, depression, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and musculoskeletal conditions. Most of us, in our generation, have some ailment and our plans are motivated by a single common thread that produces benefits even the youngest in our tribe. Spending time in nature strengthens the immune system, according to Ming Kuo.

Kuo, an environment and behavior researcher who serves as director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory, spent a lot of time to pore through hundreds of studies that explored the effects of nature on human health. Her search revealed no fewer than 21 possible pathways between good health and Mother Nature. All but two of these pathways shared a common element: they enhanced the function of the immune system.

Huge, Broad Effects on Health

Time in the great outdoors has been found to protect the health of many human body systems — cardiovascular, mental health, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and more — all at the same time in a way that Kuo likens to a multivitamin. Multivitamins provide a wide array of nutrients and Kuo says this is exactly how nature protects us, too. Like multivitamins, “nature doesn’t just have one or two active ingredients,” she said.

“The realization that there are so many pathways helps explain not only how nature promotes health, but also why nature has such huge, broad effects on health,” she said.

Rest and Digest

The “fight or flight” response to stressful situations has long been understood. When confronted with a problem (saber-tooth tiger, charging elephants, tough tests at school, bankruptcy, missed job promotions), the body is flooded with stress hormones that heighten our awareness of every little thing in our environment. It all becomes a big deal. We become ready to fight it out or run for our lives. Every body system not required for immediate survival is put on temporary hold, including the immune system.

Kuo thinks time in nature turns that high-stress switch off and turns on a “rest and digest” switch that allows the body to relax and recover. She says, “When we feel completely safe, our body devotes resources to long-term investments that lead to good health outcomes -- growing, reproducing, and building the immune system.”


Any time we feel safe, relaxed, and peaceful, the entire body benefits but Kuo says full-blown restoration occurs outside. Pleasant indoor activities help but it’s only outside that we encounter certain important elements in abundance. Kuo says, “Enjoyable indoor activities don’t provide the phytoncides, mycobacterium vaccae, negative air ions, vitamin D-producing sunlight, and other active ingredients found outdoors. So we’d expect a smaller boost than you’d get from being in nature.”

“Finding that the immune system is a primary pathway provides an answer to the question of ‘how’ nature and the body work in concert to fight disease,” Kuo said.

From a stroll through a city park to a day spent hiking in the wilderness, exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.

Incorporating nature into everyday life, whether it be a new plant in your workspace or a quick stroll outside, has never been more prevalent or important than it is at this moment in time. We are learning how to survive an ever-fluctuating pandemic and the shift to work-from-home resulting from the pandemic, and seem to intuitively sense that Mother Nature can change our mood, and that plants can even become your friends (if you’re as doting as I am). Despite this seemingly spontaneous boost in channeling nature to power your healing, the science behind it has been around for decades.

Forest Bathing

This Time article chronicles the scientific study of The Healing Power of Nature, recent studies and its effects on the body. In the early 1980s, Japanese scientists set out to discover clinically therapeutic benefits of people taking strolls in the woods to improve their health. This practice was called forest bathing or shinrin-yoku. In one early study, scientists found a 40-minute walk through the forest lowered the stress hormone cortisol (that “inner critic ick,” fight/flight/freeze/appease response chemical).

Studies also show nature positively impacts our health by:

  • Improving short-term memory by 20%.

  • Increasing levels of Vitamin D.

  • Improving sleep quality.

  • Lowering blood sugar in diabetics.

  • And even increasing creativity.

Similarly, recent studies have found natural changes in scenery offer relief for health issues like heart disease, depression, cancer, and anxiety.

The author of this study wrote, “Accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanized world”. Unfortunately, urban dwellers are less likely to have easy access to natural walking spaces and thus are more prone to higher stress levels and anxiety. Fortunately, a study conducted by the American Society for Horticultural Science shows indoor plants promote the same feelings of happiness and well-being as forest bathing and nature walks.

Step outside your door for FREE Stress-Relief

Urban areas are home to more than 84% of Americans, and with that, exploring nature has become less of a normalized practice. We don’t prioritize, let alone validate, the basic human need for connection with mountains, water, and trees (in addition to the fact a majority of people view natural connectivity as a touch woo-woo). Instead of viewing nature as an inconvenience or a woo-woo holistic medicine, we should be viewing it as free therapy.

Matthew Miller notes in this article that the human body is “fully conductive” and the earth pulses out an electromagnetic frequency that immediately grounds our bodies whenever it touches the earth directly. Twenty years of medical studies on grounding show that when we are connected to the earth’s energy, everything from our brain waves to our muscle tension positively responds to grounding.



Here is a FREE link to a guided meditation to get you started- If that is what you are into

Amazing nature-connected coach Jenya Kuvshinova has some wonderful thoughts on using nature to boost resilience - I’ve been lucky enough to hear them first hand on hikes and over her delicious home cooked meals - and she has a whole webinar available on YouTube if you are interested in diving deeper with her. At minimum, I encourage you to experience the meditation piece, which I’ve cued up below. All you need is a quiet space (even better if you are outdoors) and have some sort of natural element with you, whether you grab a stick, leaf, flower or rock while outside, from outside or from that cute house plant.

I hope you find beautiful places to spend time with your little ones...

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