Since the pandemic, the link between nature and well-being is increasingly recognised. People report feeling more peaceful and happier when they take the time to notice the natural world around them. Research shows that spending time in nature reduces anxiety and stress and improves our mood. Nature can have a positive effect on our mental and emotional health as well as our physical health, by reducing blood pressure, muscle tension, and stress hormones. In one study, half of the patients recovering from the same operation were in a hospital room with a view of trees outside and half with a view of a wall. The outcome was that the patients with trees recovered better and spent less time in the hospital.
When we connect with nature, we extend our attention and awareness outside ourselves, away from the limiting internal stress, anxiety, or sadness to the wide-open natural world in all its sensual wonder and beauty. Finding a deep connection with the natural world is one of the foundations of joy, peace, and vitality.
For 95% of our time on Earth, our nomadic forager ancestors were intimately connected with nature. Hunter-gatherer communities around today have a deep sense of being part of the natural world around them. So, in our modern world, how have we lost this connection, and how does this impact our lives and societies?