There’s something about trees and grass, flowers and nature in all its glory that satisfies some deep part of our soul. Even NASA has done studies about how to introduce nature into space so that astronauts can stay calm and focused when spending long periods in isolation.
What is it about green spaces that are so irresistible?
- Like plants, we require the sun! Without sunlight, we suffer. Our brain chemistry requires sunlight to make two very important brain chemicals: melatonin which helps us to sleep better, and serotonin which is what enables us to feel happy and content. Without either of these, your life will be out of balance. Without both, you very quickly become lethargic, depressed, and unable to function well. That’s why even a small amount of sun is so important every single day. Our bodies need the sun almost as much as plants do!
- A little dirt is good for you. You need dirt in your life to be healthy. Soil that is – the good healthy dirt not made poisonous with pesticides and herbicides. Maybe our bodies already know that dirt contains good bacteria that gives your immune system a positive boost. But it also actually helps your serotonin levels again to be exposed to the natural chemicals found in dirt, meaning time spent digging in the dirt – or even just being around it – makes you less anxious and stressed.
- We all need to go green. You’d be surprised at how important a daily dose of greenery is to our mental health. Having even just a plant on your windowsill will lower your blood pressure. But did you know that studies have shown patients in hospitals recover faster when they have a window that looks out onto something green – like tree branches waving outside? Caring for plants is also known to be therapeutic, and a reminder of the life around us. And, in a community setting, a garden can become a social connection to the people around you.
- Go with the flow. The observation of water in motion is just as powerful. It’s why we love staring at the ocean so much that you can find numerous videos online that are nothing more than the watching of waves upon a beach. But there’s also benefit to watching a fountain, whether it be one in the courtyard of your office building or a tabletop fountain. The gentle cascade of water soothes and lowers stress and anxiety. Water tells us life goes on, and that we too can be powerful.
Simply put, we crave nature because there’s so much good in it that our bodies need. Some of the aspects of it are beneficial to our chemistry on a cellular level, but others have a more visceral impact or affect us strongly psychologically. Put together we can’t help but desire to be close to nature, because we feel at our best when we are.