Forming new habits is tough. The problem is that our subconscious programming consistently pulls us towards our daily routine. This is why you feel resistance when you try to break an old habit and adopt a new way of being.
This is also the reason why 80% of people that start the new year with a resolution give up on it by February.
But there are some habits that are easy to get started and make you feel as though you should never give up.
Walking in nature springs to mind.
And the reason why you should make nature walks a habit is because of the incredible physiological and psychological benefits walking in nature offers you.
Nature Walks Make You Happier
A 2014 study found that nature walks significantly lower depression and
perceived stress. Although scientists are not entirely sure why spending time in the natural world has such positive effects on our mental well-being, one researcher claimed: “Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA.”
An evolutionary aspect of our past automatically connects us with nature. But living in cities has caused us to lose touch with the natural world. And that evolutionary part within us.
Modern lives are stressful and living in cities makes it impossible to escape the information overload your brain receives on a daily basis. When you’re in nature there is less sensory overload, so the parasympathetic nervous system lights up and enables you to relax.
Self-Confidence and Optimism
Happy people are generally more optimistic and self-confident. Self-confidence breeds optimism. And researchers found that spending time in “green surroundings” helps to improve mood.
Researchers found that when we spend time in parks, lakes, the coast and other areas of natural beauty, it enhances our feeling of happiness and optimism. You’ve probably felt this in your own life.
A 2019 study found that spending time in nature discovered 227 links or nonmaterial ‘pathways’ that enhance our well-being through “recreation, spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, social relations, and aesthetic values”.
Researchers found a consistent relationship between the well-being of humans after some form of interaction with nature. This might include a stroll in the park, cleaning the leaves from the drive, gardening or foraging for berries.
Nature Walk Prescriptions
The healing effects of nature walks are becoming increasingly recognised by physicians and medical institutions. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes nature as “our greatest source of health and well-being”.
GPs in the UK, Canada and New Zealand are now treating patients with “green prescriptions” – or in other words, nature walks. The goal of green prescriptions is to encourage people to maintain a healthy lifestyle through interaction with the natural environment.
Numerous studies show that spending time in nature brings us into contact with microbes that reinforce our immune systems. Furthermore, walking helps you breathe deeply which means you take in more oxygen which further improves the performance of the immune system.
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