I read a quote today that resonated with me because I’ve been at the computer screen, the one I sit in front of right now, the one I chop at voraciously, typing away letters into words, this electronic device that holds my daily attention in a focus-like trance.
What if our successful habits and routines of working in an electronic world are actually hurting our mental and physical health?
There are days when my anxiety picks up for no reason, and I wonder why or what situation has caused this to happen. There is a part of me that realizes I’m lucky to choose when I can pull away from my electronic devices and do something to calm my mind, move my body, or get out into nature, but what about the majority of society that has to sit through a 9–5 workday?
Oh, oh, hell noooo.
Is it time to demand our connection to nature? I have to do better at this myself — of building successful nature immersion habits.
I read this from Brainpickings today from British naturalist and environmental writer Michael McCarthy:
“They are surely very old, these feelings. They are lodged deep in our tissues and emerge to surprise us. For we forget our origins; in our towns and cities, staring into our screens, we need constantly reminding that we have been operators of computers for a single generation and workers in neon-lit offices for three or four, but we were farmers for five hundred generations, and before that hunter-gatherers for perhaps fifty thousand or more, living with the natural world as part of it as we evolved, and the legacy cannot be done away with.”
Imagine how long it must take our bodies and brains to catch up with fifty thousand years of evolution? How frustrating our internal wiring is with this modern electronic automated life that causes unsettling anxiety, depression, physical and mental health issues?
WHY WE SHOULD CONNECT TO NATURE SCIENTIFIC FACT #1:
Those who don’t get enough Vitamin D are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Getting enough sunlight has also been linked with the prevention of diabetes, autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease.
Were we meant to be in a sitting position, locked away inside a concrete building devoid of nature, wind, earth, water, and connection to what humans evolved to survive and in the first place?
In the 1950's, my Grandpa Howard was farming, toiling in nature to make something with his hands that would feed his family. He would wake up and walk out under the sun, the sky, and breathe in the pure air and do his work.
Was he happier, more balanced, and healthier than me?
My bet is, he was. Hell, he lived, worked the fields, and smiled into his nineties.
WHY WE SHOULD CONNECT TO NATURE SCIENTIFIC FACT #2:
Another reason to get outside is to prevent the stunting eye sight. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is the term used to describe eye problems caused by staring at a screen close to your face for prolonged periods. Getting outside and focusing on objects not two feet from your face can help to prevent and even reverse these symptoms.
Artificial Light Provokes Nearsightedness: A 2007 study found that “among American children with two myopic parents, those who spent at least two hours per day outdoors were four times less likely to be nearsighted than those who spent less than one hour per day outside.”
If you have kids, get their asses outside and then get outside with them.
It’s why people love to garden, hike, play, or be outside — because of the beauty, interconnectedness, fresh air, and purity of what lives beyond the computer screen.
Outside, in the horizons of blue, inside the cosmos of a night sky, there is a place of infinity, yet, how many kids get to see the wonder of a starry night?
WHY WE SHOULD CONNECT TO NATURE SCIENTIFIC FACT #3:
I suck at sleeping. This is definitely a weak spot for me. The science says to improve your sleep with early morning exposure to sunlight, and less blue light (from electronic screens) at night. This has been shown to help recalibrate these sleep cycles, depending on allowing morning light or disallowing blue light at night.
I just downloaded this Flux app for my computer. I tend to focus and obsess about finishing work on the computer, which then adds to my exposure to blue light, which then makes it harder for me to sleep at night. Blue light is the wavelength most responsible for inhibiting the release of melatonin, which helps humans get some shut eye.
As a 38-year old man that has struggled with bouts of anxiety and depression amidst career changes, going into nature for long periods of time have helped me relax and find a true center of calm. Sailing through the Caribbean to Combat Traditional Living changed me. Hiking for a week-long tour of Pictured Rocks empowered me. It taught me the power of calming by connecting to our Earth, our oceans, our skies, and our winds.
The most powerful force of energy we have in our lives should be used in our daily habits.
Yet, I barely make connecting to nature part of my routine. I rarely make it a habit that I schedule into my days.
Am I too busy? Am I too cool? Is it not important to me? How do we connect to nature in gargantuan, fast-moving concrete cities (please let me know)?
WHY WE SHOULD CONNECT TO NATURE SCIENTIFIC FACT #4:
Get on the grass. The ground. The water. The sand. The soil. The leaves. The jungle. The wood. Let your toes and skin connect to the Earth. According to a study reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, grounding can have an intense anti-inflammatory and energizing effect on the body.
Are humans meant to be cooped up and sit inside all day?
My intuition tells me no, but yet, rarely do I do anything about it.
I feel this is one of the reasons, anxiety, depression, and mental health is becoming a growing problem in our society.
WHY WE SHOULD CONNECT TO NATURE SCIENTIFIC FACT#5:
Get out yo house and move outside!
*Exercising outdoors has benefits over the gym: people who run outside exert more energy than those on treadmills (and same for cyclists), people enjoy it more, and consequently, will do it for longer periods. If you want to live longer, get outside. If the idea of exercise makes you want to vomit, science supports the benefits of “non-exercise activity” and its effects on boosting metabolism.
We as humans have evolved to have our food, water, and lives brought to us through other people’s efforts.
I don’t make my own food. I don’t plant my own crops. I don’t head to the local watering hole to bring water back to my tribe. I don’t walk under a canopy of lush scenery, enveloping our senses and minds with the splendor of nature. I don’t exercise outside unless I make a habit of it (which I don’t).
Are we, as a society, not building enough nature into the habits and routines of our lives — to connect and breathe, run, swim, sit, and be with our connection to the infinite energy that created us?
I think not.
Many of the facts cited have been taken from this article, thanks to Trek. *https://thetrek.co/scientifically-supported-reasons-get-outside/