This is a new type of prescription where a doctor suggests their patient spend a certain amount of time in nature on a regular basis.
Why – because spending time in nature has great health benefits!
For our body: increases physical activity so improves fitness and lowers rates of obesity, healthy exposure to sunlight which will help sleep patterns and aid the formation of vitamin D in the body (crucial for bone and muscle health and immune function) and better heart health by lowering blood pressure. This time outside even lowers our blood levels of stress hormone cortisol and enhances the activity of certain white blood cells which fight infection and prevent the development of cancer.
For our mind: time in nature lowers feelings of stress and anxiety, lifts mood and improves focus. After being out in nature, focus and concentration are better and there is less tendency to ruminate (dwell on negative thoughts and feelings).
For children: getting out into nature on a regular basis is especially important for child health and development. Apart from the benefits outlines above, having free time to simply play in rich natural places provides the best opportunity for kids to engage in ‘nature play’- link to blog on this here
How- unplug from technology and connect to nature!
Choose your special place: where’s a spot you feel comfortable that’s easy to get to?
Is it your balcony? Your garden? A nearby park or beach?
Choose your nature dose: how long can you realistically commit to spending?
Set an achievable time and frequency ie. 30 minutes daily.
It’s good to aim for a ‘green hour’ each day- this can be broken up into smaller pieces.
If you’re starting from very little time in nature, just 15 minutes to begin might be most achievable at first.
Set your intention to connect
To get the most benefit from your nature prescription you really need to be where you actually are, rather than have your attention somewhere else (listening to a podcast/on a work phone call etc…)
To make this easy for yourself consider leaving your phone at home, or at the very least putting it onto airplane mode.
Then, put on your nature glasses and check out the world around you! Try to engage all your senses- feel the breeze on your skin, notice the flower’s fragrance, lie on the grass and look up into the sky, touch the bark of that incredible tree- maybe even put your cheek against it.
Tree hug Photo by Trent Haaland on Unsplash
Woman on beach and hand touching tree photographs from Shutterstock