In a highly connected world, short bouts of stress are inevitable (and can even be productive), but longer bouts of stress can have severe health and well-being implications.
We’ve written about why a digital detox can be important, but did you know that spending time in nature can be more effective at de-stressing your life than the gym, virtual reality, or watching your favorite TV show?
Here are a few reasons why stepping away from technology and into the great outdoors can work wonders for your sense of well-being.
Digital media creates a false sense of reality
Advertising is usually built to show us how glamorous we could be with a particular product or service in our life. The shoes will make your jump higher or run faster – the makeup will make you look younger – the diet food will help you lose weight. Advertising can be helpful for companies selling a product, but it’s possible that it has some negative side-effects too.
When I scroll through my social media feeds (the advertising equivalent for non-companies), it always seems that people I follow are funnier, better looking, and more active than I am. Of course it’s just perception, but constantly comparing your life to what others post on social media is usually a losing proposition. Very few people post the ugly stuff, and following people’s “perfect” lives on social media can be enough to shift your view of self and self-worth.
Research suggests that using social media can lead to depression and anxiety. At the very least, it can create a false sense of reality for you to inhabit – one where you get to see the carefully curated high points of everyone else’s lives, with none of the relatable low points.
Disconnecting from the ‘ideal’ and focusing on nature is a great way to break free from the illusion of perfection, and reorient your sense of self, purpose, and perspective.
Nature is restorative
Consider these compelling reasons to choose the restorative power of nature over a trip to your favorite indoor gym in the city:
- The Japanese have a practice called “forest bathing” or “forest therapy” wherein people head outside specifically to relax, de-stress, and form a deeper relationship with nature.
- Dr. Robert Zarr (a pediatrician in Washington D.C.) finds nature such a compelling healer that he regularly prescribes parks to patients to help with positive health changes.
While exercise is good for you, exercise (or simply spending time) in nature seems to be even more effective at producing positive health effects.
It’s hard to break through the noise
The pace of life in a modern, Internet-connected world, is fast. Really fast. There’s so much information streaming from your phone, TV, computer, and media that the constant barrage of information can be overwhelming.
It’s important to have time and space to connect with thoughts and emotions properly.
Becoming a digital minimalist and adopting a low-tech lifestyle could be just the thing to build a sustainable defense against the constant barrage of information and make room for a deeper relationship with friends and family in the process.
The next time you’re full of stress and looking for a release, consider finding your way outdoors instead of watching your favorite show on Netflix. And, if you happen to know someone that needs a little extra coaxing, check out these fun hiking gift ideas to get them excited about spending more time outside.
Does this article resonate with you? If so, leave a comment with your thoughts and feedback!