We all know that nature is good for out physical and mental health, but do you know why? Read below for some really interesting facts you may not know about why we should be getting a bit dirtier and wandering in the woods more.
Evidence suggests that Britons are becoming more and more distant from nature in recent years. In the UK at the moment 75% of 5 to 12 year olds are spending less time outside than prison inmates who are only required to spend one hour in the open air per day!
“We are only spending 1-5% of our time outside these days”
In 2007 the words acorn, magpie and buttercup were taken out of the Oxford Children's Dictionary and words like broadband and cut and paste were added!
In the UK in last 80 years we have lost half of our ancient woodlands and 1 in 10 species in this country are facing extinction.
Evidence shows that air pollution has an impact on our physical and mental health, for example the rates of conditions such as psychosis are higher in areas of polluted air.
We are in a climate emergency partly because of our disconnection to nature. What motivation do we have to save our planet if we are becoming more and more disconnected from nature ourselves.
So how can nature heal us?
Studies have shown that when being out in a green, natural space and then entering a busy, more hectic place, our brains have a better ability to cope with that more hectic place if we have come from a green space, such as a park or woodland. Again further studies show that being in a green space allows our brains to recover from stress and anxiety a lot quicker than in a built environment.
Also research suggests that our sympathetic nervous, which is our flight or fight response is in overdrive due to all the stresses of everyday life we face nowadays, this causes inflammation in the body which can lead on to stress related diseases such as, depression and anxiety. Being in nature activates our parasympathetic nervous system which reduces that inflammation, which helps reduces the risk of these diseases.
“Soil is a natural antidepressant .”
Having a good, diverse range of gut bacterial is linked to a stronger wellbeing and overall happiness. However evidence shows that people that live in more built up urban areas have a less diverse gut microbiome, compared to those that have daily contact with the natural world. We usually think about improving our gut health by eating more plant based foods but this evidence suggests that just being out in the countryside or away from polluted areas for a period of time everyday can improve your gut microbiome, which in term will strengthen your wellbeing.
Studies have even found that there are microorganisms living in the bacteria in the soil that can even make us happy. Did you know that there's a natural antidepressant in soil? Mycobacterium vaccae is found in soil, it has been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium stimulates serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier!
Get outside and enjoy the journey!