How Nature Can Make You More ResilientApr 27, 2022
Even though we have more technological advances than ever before, people are unhappier than ever. Studies show that the average American spends a total of 93 percent of their lives indoors (87 percent inside buildings and 6 percent in cars). That’s just 7 percent of your entire life spent being outdoors!
Never before in history have we been so out of touch with the natural world. Richard Louv, author of The Last Child In The Woods, published extensive research explaining the direct link between the lack of nature and childhood trends on the rise, such as obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and depression. He defines the lack of time spent in nature, due in large part to the amount of time spent in front of a screen, as, “Nature Deficit Disorder.” He argues that people are spending so little time in nature that it is acutely affecting their behavior in negative ways, causing them to have a lack of inner peace and true happiness. This is not okay!
We have become so disconnected from the earth that it’s making us sick, stressed, and depressed. Too many people are living their lives primarily between four walls and behind a screen, forgetting that we are nature itself. Nature isn’t something that is separate from us, as much as we try to remove it from our lives. When we lose our connection to nature, we lose our connection to ourselves. It is a part of us. The more disconnected we are from nature, the more disconnected we are from peace, health, and joy.
Author John Muir, known as the “Father of National Parks,” wrote in his published work John of the Mountains, “Most people are on the world, not in it.” The solution to combating modern stresses and improving our mental resilience is simple: spend more time in nature.
In the past when doctors didn’t know what else to do to help their patients, they would prescribe patients to spend two weeks at the ocean to heal. Today, doctors are increasingly prescribing time in nature to help with everything from physical to psychological ailments. In Canada, doctors are now able to prescribe spending time in nature and are able to give free passes to national parks. Similar initiatives are popping up all over the world!
Don’t think you have to go far, or even leave Dubuque county to tap into the benefits of spending time in nature. I thought that I knew all of the natural places that existed in Dubuque, but when I let myself look through new eyes, I noticed all that I hadn’t explored! My husband discovered that Dubuque is located in “The Driftless Area,” a region known as one of the few spots in North America that escaped the glaciers from the last ice age. My father and father-in-law, both born and raised in the area, didn’t know that this existed in their own backyard either! You’ll be surprised what you can find when you allow yourself to see the natural world with new eyes around you. Nature offers the gift of perspective, which is a powerful tool to building resilience.
At every stage in my life that has required resilience, I’ve always found myself spending more time in nature. The more time I spend walking trails, journaling near a body of water, or meditating under a tree, the more I seem to receive the answers I am looking for. I always feel far less stressed and far more hopeful than I did prior to spending time outside. This is because spending time in nature increases your endorphin levels and dopamine production, which promotes feelings of happiness. Being in nature helps you remember your inner strength and your own ability to rise above life’s struggles.
Here’s how to take advantage of the outdoors as the days continue to get warmer and pops of spring surround us.
- Take your work and meals outside
When the weather becomes warmer and the sun is teasing you to join it, bring your work and meals outside. Work on emails with your laptop barefoot on the sidewalk. Sit on the grass while you’re taking a work call. Eat your lunch picnic style outside.
- Explore new to you trails and parks
See yourself as an explorer of this planet we get to spend a lifetime on! Everywhere you look provides endless beauty and empowers you to know that you are a part of it too. Make a list of all of the trails and parks that are somewhat close to you that you would like to visit. At least once a week, make it a point to go and explore the area.
- Family walk after dinner
This is a fantastic habit to get into! Not only will you be outside, you will also be moving your body to support better digestion after a meal and are spending time with your family.
- Bird watching
Believe it or not, a recent study found that happiness is correlated with local bird diversity. In fact, a 10 percent increase in exposure to birdsong increases happiness to a similar magnitude as a 10 percent increase in your income does! Let’s make bird watching cool again!
As professionals, I believe that we need to re-examine our relationship with nature. Instead of viewing nature as something that is “not professional,” we should instead start to see nature as an incredible and needed professional tool to support our mental resilience in order to become better leaders.
Alisha hosts experiences in nature for professionals from forest bathing experiences, to outdoor guided meditations, group hikes, and more, to reconnect with themselves, increase creativity, and create total mind-body well-being.
Alisha's book, The Six G.O.L.D. Keys to Well-Being: A Guide to Unlocking A Healthy and Happy Life is out now!
Stay connected with news and updates!
Join our newsletter and exclusively receive my latest podcasts, upcoming events, and bonus gifts delivered straight to your inbox!
We aren't a fan of SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.