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Take a Hike! Why Is Nature Important to Health?

Nature is our life-support system. According to the World Health Organization’s report, “Ecosystems and Human Well-Being,” nature is “indispensable to the well-being and health of people.” The first element of a person’s needs, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, begins with one’s environment: food, water, and shelter.

Our environment sustains us, both emotionally and physically. Without nature, we would have nothing. As the world becomes increasingly urban, finding options for natural experiences becomes limited. Our ability to live well and eat well is determined by supermarkets and screens. We often opt for quick fixes for our attention, cognitive well-being, and wellness. However, the best fix for what ails us can be found in green (parks, trees, and fields) and blue (water scenes, oceans, and rivers) spaces.

Our health relies on how we feed our minds and bodies. When one considers this, the option of farm-to-table eating becomes more necessary than before.

What Is Farm-to-Table?

Farm-to-table was developed in 1915 by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. He believed the ability of farmers to sell directly to consumers and that individuals growing their own food was more beneficial than over-commercializing the process of getting food to consumers. So, farm-to-table was born and encouraged local produce to be delivered to more localized areas, improving residents’ health outcomes. When food is grown and produced locally, it offers a surplus of personal and environmental benefits.

For example, when grown and consumed locally, honey protects consumers from local allergens. Local meat and vegetables grown by individual farmers have greater nutritional content than those grown on large corporate farms. Sustainable and conscientious farming occurs more often at the local level than in larger corporate farms. Also, when using a farm-to-table focus, food is delivered safely with less waste and more focus on consumer needs.

Healthy eating is just one benefit of nature. This nature intervention benefits our physical well-being through food, but there are other benefits to be derived from nature.

How Can Nature Help Our Mental Health?

Research shows that various experiences with nature are associated with improved mental health status. Experiences in nature can have a positive effect specifically on our cognitive well-being, including functions related to:

  • memory
  • attention
  • impulsive inhibition
  • imagination
  • creativity

As a society growing more and more fixated on screen time, we ignore the many benefits that nature offers. There was a lower incidence of mental and physical health problems in years past since people more readily engaged with nature. Also, there was less urban development, meaning more nature was available to the public at large. As opportunities to engage with nature declined, stress increased, and positive well-being decreased.

Mental health is critical to the development of self-esteem, creativity, and one’s ability to withstand stressors without resorting to behaviors that can cause long-term problems. Nature provides a means of developing positive well-being, either by actively engaging with it or simply observing it.

How Can Nature Impact Our Physical Health Beyond Food?

While eating a healthy diet from locally grown food can benefit our bodies, another benefit to our bodies comes from experiencing nature. Being in nature is known to:

  • Improve cognitive functioning related to:
    • concentration
    • memory
  • Increase productivity
  • Increase sense of community
  • Improve self-esteem, mood, and relaxation
  • Improve heart health

In an article published in the Health Place journal, researchers explain how everyday contact with nature can improve quality of life and reduce the impact of disease in multiple populations. Overall, there is growing evidence of the positive impact of nature on one’s physical well-being. This impact should not be overlooked.

How Can You Best Interact With Nature?

While society has moved away from wide-open spaces, finding a means of experiencing parks, trees, and open fields will improve your mood and other health outcomes. The same can be said for walking along waterways and seeing rivers, oceans, and streams. Any form of nature exposure will help improve your outlook on life and help you develop positive coping skills for dealing with difficult situations.

However, for those that live in urban areas, finding opportunities to explore and experience nature may be difficult. So, viewing photos and videos – and even imagining being in a natural setting – can improve your mental health and reduce the risk of physical problems.

At Enlightened Solutions, we recognize the value of engaging with the natural world. We provide access to Hope Farm and other natural resources, which enable our clients to enjoy local trails and local produce. We believe in the power of nature to improve well-being both physically and emotionally. We believe in holistic care and treating the individual’s whole self: body, mind, and spirit.

Experiencing nature is critical to beginning the process of recovery and becoming your best self. At Enlightened Solutions, we recognize nature as an important component in healing from addiction to alcohol and/or other substances or behaviors. One’s well-being in recovery is dependent upon a variety of factors, not just overcoming addiction, which is why we focus on helping the whole person and offer holistic therapies. We follow 12-Step programming and encourage our clients to pursue complete recovery in all aspects of their lives. We offer a variety of services beginning from detox to outpatient care and believe in your ability to recover. Our caring, professional staff are ready and able to help you. Reach out to us today and learn how we can support you in finding your best life. Call Enlightened Solutions at (833) 801-LIVE and begin the process of recovery. You are worth it. 

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