You and nature

There have been numerous studies on how trees and green spaces affect the living environment in residential neighbourhoods. One example is a recent study done in Leipzig, Germany, indicating a correlation between tree-lined streets and a reduction in anti-depressant prescriptions. For people who live in cities or those who spend most of their time in the virtual worlds in front of a digital screen, it is important to understand your relationship to nature. A complete disconnection from nature can be detrimental for both mental and physical health, whereas daily exposure to nature has innumerable benefits. 

Throughout history, humans have sought to demonstrate the separation and distinction between humans and animals. This is reflected in the way we consider words that describe animal species such as dogs, pigs or rats as epithets when applied to people. If you reflect on your own beliefs, you may find all kinds of ideas about nature being harsh, cruel and dangerous. There may also be ideas about being at odds or somehow at war with nature. We may have ideas that human technology and ingenuity is better than or can improve upon nature. Such views are based on a very limited perspective. Nature is not a battle for the survival of the fittest but a complex system with a high degree of interdependence. You are not separate from nature but only an extension of it. Many people have forgotten how important our connection to nature is. 

Why is this important? I am not trying to encourage people to give up their comforts and regress to the ways our ancient ancestors used to live. I enjoy the benefits of our modern life and have no desire to go live in some remote area to exist off the land. It is, however, important to recognise how beliefs around our relationship to nature affect the way we live. This can relate to many different issues we face, including a sustainable way of living or a healthy body, mind, and spirit. We are both a product of and a contributor to natures cycles and processes. Trying to imagine ourselves as removed from this is detrimental to our health as well as the future of our planet. 

It is not difficult to test the effect that nature has on your mental and physical wellbeing. Imagine spending a whole day in front of the TV binge-watching some series or playing video games. Now think of yourself swimming in the ocean, walking through a forest, hiking around a lake, or breathing in the fresh air on a mountain top. Which scenario, the indoor or the outdoor, would make you feel both mentally and physically better? If the answer is unclear to you, then you have probably not spent enough time outdoors in a while. If you can simply find a patch of grass to walk on barefoot for fifteen minutes, you will feel calmer and more grounded. This is the profound effect our connection to nature, or lack of it, can have on us. Finding regular ways to connect with nature is essential if you want to live a good life.