Why Spending Time in Nature is Vital for the Soul
I’ve just come back from five amazing days in the bushveld. Since the lockdown in March 2020, we haven’t ventured much out of our home or city. What a relief it was to hit the road and head out of town. And, the minute we turned off the main road and headed into the area where our temporary bushveld home was located, I could literally feel my soul starting to sing again.
That’s the magic of spending time in nature. It allows your soul to rejuvenate again. But, why else is it vital for your soul (and mind and body) to spend time in nature, away from the urban lifestyle so many of us find ourselves in?
Why Do We Long to Be in Nature?
Everyone in my tribe talks often and longingly about being able to live in nature permanently. However, most of us are faced with needing to make an income in order to survive and that means holding down a job in a town or city.
What’s interesting to note though, is how our COVID-19 experience is showing us a way out of this conundrum by using modern-day technology (aka the internet!) to work online. But, this is a topic for another blog!
Why do we long to be in nature? Being the instinctual beings that we are, we naturally gravitate to what's good for us and nature is a biggie here. It’s only natural to want to feel embraced by the loving-kindness energy of Mother Earth. And, to feel the gentle wisdom of magnificent trees as they reach for the skies.
We also feel a deep sense of stirring whenever a wind blows through the leaves or we hear the sounds of a river flowing.
Nature grounds us. She reminds us that we’re all interconnected in one big web of life. Nature restores our balance as we connect once more with the natural energies and rhythms of Mother Earth. And, when we allow ourselves to listen to our instinct, we long to be in nature because deep down our soul tells us there’s nothing as powerfully healing as our natural environment.
When your soul feels undernourished you’ll hear or feel a deep drive or need to get back into nature. Heed that calling so your mind, body, and soul may be restored, balanced, and harmonized once more.
Why Spending Time in Nature is Vital for Your Soul
When you spend time in nature, you’re allowing your soul to rejuvenate. It’s a similar experience, I imagine, to having batteries recharged. Your energy levels are fired up and a reset button is triggered. You’re now given the power to carry on despite the environment you find yourself in.
Here are some very good reasons why you should be spending time in nature whenever your soul asks for it.
It Helps to Release Stressors
For the past however many months (I really can’t tell you how long it’s been), my stomach has been in perpetual turmoil. This was a result of months of living with stressors I couldn’t release easily. But, as we drove to our bushveld destination and the more I saw mountains and trees around me, the more I could feel the stressors slowly exit my body.
By the time we arrived at our cabin, the knots in my stomach had disappeared. It was as magical as that!
The sight of nature is known to release enjoyable and happy feelings. It can reduce high blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and release muscle tension. These are all typical symptoms caused by a number of stressors in your life.
Nature allows you to feel better, emotionally, physically, and mentally. And, this helps you to release the stressors and fears which have been exhausting you and your body. Instead, your body starts to heal, giving you a sense of overall well-being.
You Can Breathe Again
We’re always breathing. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now! But, there’s breathing and then there’s breathing! The minute we got into our car early in the morning to start our trip to the bushveld, I took a huge breath. It felt like my first real breath during which I could let go and relax.
The whole time I was in the bushveld, I was conscious of my breathing and letting it flow naturally. It was a wonderful, liberating, and healing feeling.
While I do focus a lot on my breathing especially during stressful times and in meditation, it’s only normal to get caught up in the everyday routine of life. Very quickly, I forget to breathe properly – the kind that allows all the worries to dissipate and lets in the healing energy needed to balance and ground me.
Being in nature gives you the time to focus on deep, healing, and grounding breathing. And, with deep breathing, you get to interact with nature on a far deeper level.
It Takes Your Mind Off the Pain
In May this year, my five-year-old nephew drowned. The pain has been excruciating and there have been days when I thought I would actually die from a heart attack. That’s how painful the shattering of the heart can be.
Grief brings on a host of other physical and emotional pain and spending time in nature allows you to have some reprieve from this pain.
Studies have shown that looking at trees while walking in a forest can alleviate pain as well as a host of other health problems. Trees can boost the immune system, lift depression, reduce anxiety, and lower stress levels. In Japan, forest bathing is a popular concept for improving one’s well-being and has been adopted in many countries.
Read Dr. Qing Li's beautiful book, "Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness" which talks about the therapeutic Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, the art, and science behind the healing properties of trees.
You Feel Calmer
Even spending five minutes strolling through a local park will have you feeling calmer so imagine what five days in the bushveld did for me and my partner? Almost instantly, I could feel myself calming down and even laughing with pure joy as I felt the natural earth under my feet.
My eyes feasted on the beauty of the mountains around me while my ears slowly adapted to the sounds of birds, insects, and frogs. I felt a great thirst was finally being replenished again.
Our cabin was set between huge boulders and fig trees high up in the mountain. Without a doubt, the energies of these natural elements were doing their bit in calming my mind, body, and soul. I was naturally drawn to the soothing, nourishing energies of all that was natural and I felt an immediate sense of grounding once more. It’s a bit like a homecoming!
It Allows You to Reconnect Spiritually
It’s hard work trying to stay connected spiritually in the busyness of daily life. I know I have to be very strict with my spiritual practices to keep up this connection although essentially it doesn’t ever go away. But, what nature does for you is deepen that sense of connection.
When you can start to breathe deeply, release stressors, and feel the joy that nature brings, you can also feel a stronger spiritual connection.
Natural places are beautiful and this beauty increases your vibrations almost instantly when you immerse yourself in nature. And, with heightened vibrations, you often have deeper spiritual experiences.
Living in a city is draining especially for highly sensitive people or empaths. It’s also distracting, making it challenging to feel spiritual. Spending time in nature restores this essential connection.
Other Reasons Why Spending Time in Nature is Good for the Soul
Based on my own personal experience, here are some other good reasons why spending time in nature is good for the soul:
Laughter: As all the tension was released from my body, I felt a bubble of laughter coming from the depth of my belly. I couldn’t help but laugh from the excitement and joy of being where I always feel my happiest – out in nature.
Better senses: The more time I spent walking outdoors, the better my eyesight got. And, as every evening went by, my hearing improved as I tuned into the sounds of the bushveld. By the last day of our stay, I was hearing birds that I couldn’t hear on the first day of our arrival. Even our braaied lamb chops tasted a whole lot better outdoors!
Glorious sleep: For the past six months I’ve been getting, at the most, four hours of sleep every night. I got my first full night’s sleep when I laid my head down at 8 pm in our cabin and only woke up at sunrise the next morning. The same happened every other night we spent in the bushveld.
Hope: Being out in nature restored my sense of hope again. Even more so when we experienced the first rain of the season on our second night. Overnight, the bushveld transformed as the leaves started to sprout, the insects came out, and the birds sang louder. I felt there was still hope for life in our ever-changing world.
Creativity: Whenever I spend time in nature, even if it’s an early morning walk at sunrise through our leafy suburb, I feel spurred on by my creativity. Spending time away from the hectic rush of city life allows me to recharge my batteries and to find creative solutions to whatever has been bothering me.
Better fitness: When I am in nature all I want to do is walk, walk, and walk. I love walking along game trails and dirt roads among the trees and grasses. My partner loves to scale anything that isn’t level which forces me to do some mountain climbing too! All in all, spending a few days out in nature always makes me feel fitter and stronger again. And, reminds me how vital it is to keep moving, even in a city environment.
I love this quote from Rachel Carson which encompasses everything I feel about nature, “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature-the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
Read her book, "Silent Spring" as she talks about the dangers of pesticides to our natural environment. A must-read for nature lovers.
Some Ideas for Bringing Nature Into Your Home
Here are some ways of bringing nature into your home when you can't get out into the natural environment.
This portable sleep therapy appliance plays 6 soothing sounds including the sound of a running brook, the ocean, rain, sounds of a summer night, and thunder.
This audiobook gives you a range of calming nature sounds to use while meditating, hypnosis, or if you want to get a good night's sleep. The natural sounds will calm your mind while soothing your emotions.
Framing and hanging botanical prints in your home is another way of bringing some of nature's beauty into your home.
Read my blog about bringing nature into your home by creating your own sit spot. You could also sit back and watch this beautiful recording of Louis Armstrong's famous song, "What a Wonderful World."
While there are so many benefits to spending time in nature, you may have more personal reasons for making sure you touch base with Mother Earth as often as possible. It’s essential to listen to our soul and when she starts calling for nature, make a plan. It can be as simple as spending time in your garden, going for a walk in your local park, or booking a getaway into the great wilds.
This blog was originally published on October 4th, 2021, and updated on November 18th, 2022.
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