When was the last time you spent more than a few minutes outdoors? If you’re like me, you prefer to stay inside, surrounded by a few nice people and your favorite things. But recent studies suggest you might be harming your mental, and possibly even your physical health by staying in too much.
And it’s not just about staying indoors, it’s about city life in general. If you’re reading this, you most likely live in a world full of electronic and mechanical noise, artificial light, metal, plastic, and pavement. But it probably wasn’t like this for your grandparents, or their grandparents.
The urban experiment
In the roughly 10,000 years of human civilization, it’s only relatively recently that a critical mass of humanity has begun living in cities, foregoing rural or nomadic life for freeways, big box stores, and high speed internet. It may seem like it’s been the way life is for most for a long time. But it’s really an experiment in human living that’s only just begun.
How’s it going for you so far?
In spite of the many benefits of living in cities, people are reporting high levels of unhappiness, malaise, and dissatisfaction. Does that mean we should sell our possessions and live in the woods? There may not be any need to go to such extremes.
Take a hike
One study showed that even minimal exposure to nature can make a difference in happiness and well-being. Short walks in the park, keeping potted plants around, or even gazing at landscape painting made a difference in the subjects. Another study showed that when potted plants were present in an office environment, overall stress was reduced, employee sick time plummeted, and productivity improved.
Consciously adding some outdoors time to your self care regime is easy, fun, and relaxing. Even if you’re out in not-the-best weather, you might be surprised how much better you feel afterwards.
Even some artificial nature is better than nothing. At The Good Life Massage, our waiting area has a pleasant waterfall and handsome potted plants, and every massage treatment room is equipped with a white noise machine, usually making the sounds of rain or ocean waves to help deepen your relaxation.
Add a little nature
The preponderance of evidence that suggests that exposure to natural settings and a general sense of well-being and happiness has been overwhelming to the psychological community. So much so that a new field of ecopsychology has arisen, in which mental health professionals are looking further into the ways our happiness, health, and relationship to nature intertwine.
In a sweeping happiness survey of American cities, some interesting patterns showed up. One of the significant factors that connected America’s happiest large cities (Seattle among them!) was proximity to natural or green spaces, along with easy access to large bodies of water. These were only a few of several factors, but it’s interesting in light of the studies about the relationship between happiness and regular exposure to nature.
So turn off the TV, leave your phone off, and get out there. Don’t let a beautiful day, or a beautiful life, go to waste.
Choose the good life.
Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help build your brand and reach your customers by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.