Nature Nurtures Good Health

Hippocrates, father of modern medicine, stated that “Nature itself is the best physician.” Research has shown that “natural environments may have direct and positive impacts on well-being,” including stress reduction. In 2021, one scientific article noted that activities such as “gardening, green exercise and nature-based therapy, are effective for improving mental health outcomes in adults, including those with pre-existing mental health problems.”

Fortunately for us, the Seattle area has plenty of opportunities to engage in the healing properties of nature! From hiking trails in the mountains to the waves of Puget Sound and the ocean beyond, there is something for everyone.

The challenge can be finding time to be in nature to gain its benefits. Below is a list of easy activities, from small steps to bigger outings, to use Mother Nature to help your health.

3-5 Minutes

Walk through the recently opened Marty Bender Family Garden at Kline Galland Home. This healing garden was designed as a “beautiful and therapeutic space for connection” by the University of Washington Department of Landscape Architecture for Kline Galland residents, patients, staff, and volunteers. Take a quick stroll to connect with the serenity outdoors.

5-10 Minutes

Dip a toe in the water. Next time you are driving by one of the many public beaches, stop for a refreshing pick-me-up. At the waterline, take off your shoes and walk into the water up to your ankles. Take time to feel the (cold!) current, the sand, and the rocks. It’ll wake up the senses and is especially soothing on a hot summer day. Don’t forget a towel to dry off with!

10-20 Minutes

Plant something. Succulents are great option for all gardeners: They tend to be low maintenance, come in a variety of colors, and can grow anywhere. Because they can survive indoors, succulents are a terrific way to bring the outdoors inside for a booster shot of healing from nature.

20-30 Minutes

Reconnect with the local scenery. Explore a new part of the neighborhood, check out the local pea patch, or amble in Seward Park or another local park. Pay attention to the green spots whether it’s the local school’s playground or the flowers on the side of the road. Bonus: Many local Seattle parks have have fitness zones with exercise equipment. Add in some green exercise by working out outside.

30-60 Minutes

Have a close encounter. The next time a chunk of time opens up, google “trails near me” and see what pops up. Select an unfamiliar place and head over there to check it out. Commit to at least half an hour of exploring the trails and nearby natural settings. It might just become a new favorite spot to go to when you need a little nurturing.

Early research suggests at least 2 hours per week in nature provides significantly greater health and well-being. Still, even if that’s not possible, a little time outdoors can go a long way toward mental and physical health. Nature may not be a magic cure, but might just nurture you to better health.

Source: APA