I am a person that loves outdoor activity and in particular the ocean. I have always found peace when I have been near the ocean. Once I learnt to drive I would often make my way to the ocean, especially during times of stress or periods where I felt unsettled. I was happy to just sit there breathing in the salty fresh air deeply, watching the motion of the ocean and hearing the waves crashing. It is soothing and refreshing. I have found walking through a rainforest or bush area to have a very similar effect. The air is often fresh and sweeter, the sounds of the birds and the air rustling through the leaves all work to soothe and invigorate.
Some time ago I came across a blog post by The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. It helped shed some light on why outdoor activity lifts our mood and improves our overall feeling of wellbeing.
Apparently scientists in Japan have been working to understand what it is in the natural environments that make us feel healthier. They have found 3 factors:
Beneficial bacteria are known to be important in fighting off infection, but also in our gut function and digestion. These bacteria are being studied frequently now. We are learning just how much how body relies and needs these bacteria to function optimally.
Plant-derived Essential Oils
Plant derived essential oils (phytoncide) can help fight off harmful organisms.
There is evidence that negative ions can have a positive effect on our mental outlook and wellbeing.
Think about when you have outdoor activity like a bush walk or walk by the ocean (try the Bronte to Bondi walk or the Northern Beaches Coast Walk). Even when it was a tough long walk. You may have felt tired physically, but I’m sure you felt fresher and clearer in your mind.
Get outdoors this summer (safely) and take in what nature has to offer you, it will do you some good!
Have a read of the original blog post at https://www.mcri.edu.au/users/jeff-craig/blog/why-walk-woods-really-does-help-your-body-and-your-soul