By Jane Marsh
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Humans rely on nature for food, water and other necessary resources for survival. For this reason, we are all connected to the Earth. However, a dissonance between nature and humans is apparent amid urbanization, the overconsumption of natural resources and global climate change.
In fact, there’s a growing fear that this disconnect negatively impacts how we care and respond to global warming, species decline, habitat degradation and other environmental problems. Humans must adhere to their innate needs and rebuild their connection to nature to counter this. Here’s why our relationship with nature is crucial and how to fix it.
Humans Are Becoming More Disconnected From Nature
Society didn’t always have a broken nature connection — a recent study found that humanity’s relationship with the natural world has slipped away over time.
Today, fewer people reside near undeveloped areas, as 55.7% have moved closer to cities and coastal communities, compared to 33.6% six decades ago. Additionally, city-based tree coverage has been on a downward trend in tropical and northern forests for 20 years.
The study’s findings suggest that a lack of connection to the environment could hinder progress in conservation efforts and mitigating the effects of climate change. If fewer people are inclined to renew their connection to nature, why would they support planetary health?
Also, if humans disregard the overexploitation of resources, they could face dire food and water shortages in the future. The Global Footprint Network created Earth Overshoot Day to indicate when we’ve utilized the world’s natural resources for the year. It landed on September 19th in 2002 — 15 years later, it fell on August 2nd, demonstrating how fast we’ve come to consume renewables annually.
Benefits of Nature Connection
The disappearance of nature is devastating for several reasons — one being our well-being. While humans turn to nature for the essentials, it also benefits our mental health.
A 2020 study of stressed-out college students suggested that people must spend 120 minutes in nature weekly to improve their mental health. Some therapists even prescribe a healthy dose of the outdoors to patients battling depression and anxiety.
Another study found that nature correlated to a positive mood and mindset, while the Japanese exercise of forest bathing reduces hostility and depression. The additional benefits of nature highlighted in the research were increased cognitive function and brain activity, lower blood pressure, improved immunity and faster healing after surgery.
5 Ways to Boost Your Connection to Nature
Hopefully, you’re interested in reconnecting with nature to improve your health and the environment simultaneously. After all, nature is one of life’s most crucial necessities. Here are five ways to boost your relationship with the natural world.
1. Order Yourself Flowers
It may seem silly to send yourself flowers, but doing so could make you more connected to nature at home. Unfortunately, only some people are lucky enough to have a green thumb, and if you live in a bustling city, having a garden may not be possible.
Flowers bring joy to any occasion, even if it’s just another Tuesday. While you’re ordering flowers to ship to yourself next week, you could also purchase a bouquet for a friend or family member so they can reconnect with nature, too.
2. Make a Garden
If you have the space for it, gardens are excellent for building a nature connection. Gardening requires you to get down on your knees in the dirt. While it may take practice for an inexperienced gardener to keep their plants alive, many people feel fulfilled by the activity.
Imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel when you grow fruits and vegetables in your backyard. Watching a garden grow from seeds to mature plants will also remind you how beautiful life and nature are.
3. Go for a Walk Outside
Skip the treadmill and go for a walk outdoors. Your body needs at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, so you should take your routine outside to a park, a local preserve, the beach or whatever green space satisfies you most.
Working out in nature is also better for your respiratory health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality is up to five times worse than outside. Sadly, most Americans spend their days at home or in an office.
4. Meditate on the Patio
Meditation is especially beneficial for your mental health, allowing your thoughts to settle for you to focus on your breath. If you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, you might consider meditating outside.
A patio or garden is often the perfect quiet sanctuary to build your practice. With your eyes closed, envision yourself rooted in the earth and one with the environment. You can’t get much closer to nature than through relaxation and visualization exercises.
5. Volunteer in a Community Project
Studies show that volunteering improves our well-being and makes us happier. As such, consider participating in a community service project, park clean-up, tree-planting or similar activity.
Volunteer work will make you feel good, foster a more profound nature connection and help counter society’s waning desire to do right by the planet. Additionally, increasing the time you spend outdoors making a difference may be a sustainable lifestyle change.
We Need Nature as Much as It Needs Us
Humans and the environment benefit from each other in numerous ways. We must rekindle our connection to the natural world to ensure enough resources are available for future generations. Doing so will help people achieve better health and well-being and restore the planet.
About the author:
Jane is the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she shares practical tips on how to live a greener life.