April 10, 2024

From Our Experts: Why Nature is Crucial for Well-Being

Prioritizing a relationship with nature is key to orienting your life towards greater well-being. Here’s what our experts have to say about nature and well-being.

From Our Experts: Why Nature is Crucial for Cultivating Well-Being

It’s long been understood that nature can help us get calm, quiet our minds, and feel better in mind, body, and spirit. But in a world centered on fast-paced living, technology, and work, it’s all too easy to forget to prioritize time in nature on a regular basis. It is, however, crucial to cultivate a relationship with nature in order to truly live well. Here’s what some of Anthropedia’s experts have to say about nature’s role in our wellness.

How does cultivating a relationship with nature impact personal well-being?

Robert Cloninger, MD

Many people feel detached from their environment. Others feel threatened by it, especially if they grew up and live in urban settings where there are few plants and natural spaces. Despite this, the reality is that we are not separate from nature at all. We constantly breathe the air around us, and we feel the warmth or cold of the sun and wind. Each of our five special physical senses (touch, taste, smell, hearing, and vision) allow us to be aware of our immersion in nature. However, the pressures and stresses of daily life often distract us from the wonders that are all around us, and we forget that we are an inseparable aspect of nature. The Union with Nature meditation practiced in Anthropedia coaching allows us to reawaken our senses so that we are aware of our union with nature. The experience of our connection with nature is joyful and activates health-promoting mechanisms within us that are otherwise dormant. We feel more energized, alert, and alive. We are less vulnerable to infections. We heal more quickly if we are injured. We become more patient, tolerant, and kind. We become more aware of what gives us satisfaction and are motivated to prioritize what is good for us and let go of fights with ourselves and others. Regular practice of the Union with Nature meditation allows us to process old hang-ups that haunt us. Becoming aware of our constant union with nature allows us to re-imagine vividly who we really are and to put that into action in our daily life.

Sita Kedia, MD

It's quite simple. It brings individuals a deep level of happiness, joy, and hope. There are some universal experiences in life. For example, think about the last time you saw a toddler playing: what did you feel? How about the last time a person smiled at you, or when you went outside and felt the sun on your face? These are simple, nearly universal experiences that give individuals a sense of connection, love, joy, and hope. Nature is also a universal experience. The meditation, Union with Nature, helps individuals experience connection to something beyond themselves, connection to nature, which increases happiness and joy.

Peter Hutchings, PhD

The French poet Lamartine wrote that all of the natural world follows the design of God except humans. A tree takes root, stretches toward the sun, blossoms, bears fruit, and dies, all without doubting its destiny. Humanity, on the other hand, increasingly finds itself disconnected from its natural course, physically, mentally, and spiritually. By reconnecting with nature, we can calm our bodies, nourish our minds, and directly experience the unity of our beautiful universe. At the end of the day, our destiny is not that different from that of the tree.

Lauren Munsch, MD

Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function. Additionally, exposure to nature can increase feelings of awe and connectedness, promoting a sense of meaning and purpose in life. Engaging in activities such as hiking, gardening, or simply spending time in a park can also promote physical health by increasing activity levels and exposure to sunlight, which can boost vitamin D levels. Finally, developing an appreciation for nature can lead to a greater sense of responsibility and stewardship, encouraging sustainable behaviors and a sense of environmental responsibility.

Nigel Lester, MD

It may seem like a blindingly obvious statement, but we are part of nature; we are natural! Nature is the reality in which we are immersed. To be in nature is to feel at home, to feel our place in the universe and to develop a profound sense of perspective. Being in nature reminds us that we do not control the universe but rather we participate in the universe. All that is natural is intelligent and beautiful. Our well-being derives an enormous boost from experiencing this and reminding ourselves of that simple truth.

Barbara Washington, PhD

Union with Nature utilizes and opens each of our senses. It helps us to grow in awareness of the environment that we experience each day. If we look to nature, spend time in nature, open our senses to the living (things) that surround us, we can deepen our connections with each other and the world. Recognizing that we are in union with our environment at the stage of belonging and realizing that we are not alone cultivates hope. Hope cultivates the ability to let go and invite calmness and stability into our lives.

Sarah Bird, DNP

Nature helps us to connect with something greater than ourselves and access the natural calming properties of the earth. When we connect to something greater, it helps us to understand our place in the world and find deeper meaning. It also helps us feel more connected to others and our environment. Being connected in nature also impacts our autonomic nervous system, tapping into our body’s natural ability to calm itself. Being able to stay calm is such an important aspect of well-being because it allows us to make decisions that are in the best interest of our well-being.  

Christina Mengert, PhD

There are moments when we feel overwhelmed, lost, or unmoored in our lives. A relationship with nature helps us reconnect with some essential part of ourselves, as nature is the mother our bodies and brains evolutionarily emerged from. When we are in Union with Nature, we are part of a process so much greater than our small selves, which miraculously and spontaneously brings a shift in perspective. We are part of something beautiful, powerful, expansive, something that preceded us and will continue long after we are gone. This awareness, while not erasing our problems, fundamentally puts them in perspective, which in turn, helps us think creatively and change spontaneously in meaningful ways. Sometimes these moments come to us in a flash of sublimity: a moonrise over the ocean, mountains purpling under peaks of snow, endless fields of golden grain. Sometimes they come to us in small beauties: a hummingbird hovering by a red flower, the glaze of rain on a patch of grass, a butterfly beating its wings in slow respite. We are part of all of this beauty and sublimity, and knowing this, feeling the truth of this deeply, gives our lives meaning far beyond ourselves. It is a profound gift. 

You’ve heard from our experts—now, it’s time to start putting their advice into practice. ‍

Anthropedia’s well-being coaching and coach training program can help you deepen your knowledge of and connection to nature, and also grow in self-awareness, acceptance, compassion, and communication to lead a more satisfying life. 

Learn more about getting coached or becoming a coach.

Relevant Articles

Want to take action on your well-being? 

Become a part of the Anthropedia community and receive our newsletter and other updates on our work in the community, new articles, upcoming events, webinars, and more.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.