During an EcoQuest experience, focus is given to the practical importance of nature’s health benefits as a health supplement, life preservative or natural energizer. As nature is part of God’s intended presence and goodness in our lives, the following health benefits will help deepen our awareness, application or appreciation of nature’s effect on mental health and well-being.
Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D
Maintaining a healthy immune system is helped by exposure to the sun (sensible sun exposure – sunblock does not adversely affect vitamin D levels). Vitamin D is a hormonal chemical which is released into the body by the right amount of sunlight. Vitamin D is also known to act as part of the body’s resistance to a range of illnesses.
Decreases Depressive Feelings or the State of Depression
Connecting with nature’s diversity, synergy and rejuvenation whether in the company of others or as a mindfulness exercise, being in nature can help reduce depressive feelings, negative emotional states, attitudes or anti-social behaviour.
Increases Personal Motivation
There is no doubt that motivation is a strong antidote for encouraging goal setting and accomplishment. Motivation is the stuff champions are made of and forms part of their successful foundation. The benefits of walking, hiking, tramping, climbing, cycling or swimming will leave you feeling refreshed and motivates belief in a wide range of self-efficacy strengths.
The impetus for feeling confident and staying focused requires the company of nature.
Improves Sleep Patterns
The calming effects of nature can make it easier to manage healthy mind-sets, self-care, career, routines and help avoid the excesses of stress or perfectionism which can negatively impact on sleeping patterns.
Spending copious amounts of time indoors and/or being exposed to prolonged periods of artificial light or the blue light from TVs and computer screens can negatively impact on sleep patterns or lead to insomnia or sleep deprivation. Prioritising time outdoors means the natural sunlight can help balance your natural circadian rhythm.
Nature Helps The Mind Stay Focused
Taking a stroll through a park, hike in the forest, over-night in a hut or sporting interests can be invigorating or restorative. Such connection can incentivise a different internal language or conversation with others which can led to positive external objectivity. Making ‘nature time’ a strategic part of your life, will help challenge your negative internal script or misbelief thinking especially when you are in the company of like minds. In this context spending quality time away from your daily routines refreshes an individual’s focus as well as improving cognitive function and problem-solving capability.
Helps Balance Out Stress and Anxiety
Busy schedules, demanding time-lines and exhaustion can have short or long-term health and/or relational consequences. Monitoring individual stress triggers while utilizing self-preservation skills can help balance emotional and psychological well-being.
Taking time out to picnic in the natural environment, relax by a stream, the beach, garden or under a tree, looking over a landscape, hill side or mountain range is therapeutic and contributes to balancing accumulated stress and anxiety.
A big reason for ignoring the value of scheduling time in nature is procrastination, boredom or being over-committed and fatigued. This may stifle the body’s natural highs for making you feel motivated, energetic or content.
The body’s natural highs include adrenalin, serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin, known as “happiness hormones”.
These neurochemicals play a large part in how we feel, think and act. Regular contact with the outdoors will help create these happy hormonal highs and keep them in healthy supply.
Exercise helps to refresh oxygen levels, encourages blood flow and keeps the body moving while getting you in better shape.
Ever considered going out for a brisk walk where there is no membership fee or need for special equipment? This is as close as going through your front door.
Exercise earlier in the day if possible or at other times that suit your schedule but make it regular. Avoid temperature extremes and where excessive exercise isolates you from others, especially if you are obsessive about being in good shape. Use sun block and watch burn-out by over exercise (baby steps).
Health benefits become diminished if it means you are not having fun or pushing yourself beyond your better judgment.
Preparation is Better than Desperation
- Drink enough water/fluid
- Wear the right gear for the right environment
- Make the great outdoors part of your lifestyle
- If going on an overnight hike with others, take the right gear, leave a plan of your whereabouts, who you are going with and scheduled return and take a locator beacon (PLB) or GPS
- Join a walking or tramping club
- Enjoy being eco-healthy and plan your next adventure in nature’s wonderland now!