A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an event on Facebook and the title ‘Woods, skies and the wild in you’ tempted me to book it. I’m glad it did. After a few hours in the Calder Valley with Alan from Endless River I felt like I’d been on holiday for a week.
Studies show that what you see, hear, and experience in your environment changes not only your mood, but it also affects your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. Stress reduction is one of the most well-known benefits of being in nature. Getting outside, or even looking at scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. As a result, it may also help reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
Being in nature can help improve your short-term and working memory. One study suggested that walking in nature could improve your short-term memory by 20 percent. Another similar study on individuals with depression found that walks in nature boosted working memory much more than walks in urban environments.
The walk with Alan started with a guided meditation. I regularly meditate at home, but being outdoors with the smell and sound of the forest definitely enhanced the experience. After this we did some mindful walking, carefully considering each move, which really brings you in the moment. The last part of the session was an hour-long solo, which was spent alone and still. I thought I would be checking my watch after 20 minutes, but was surprised an hour had gone past when Alan returned. I spent this time practising gratitude and some more meditation. It felt incredible peaceful. I highly recommend Alan’s events, but this is also someone you can easily do yourself. You’ll be amazed how a little time in nature can lift your spirit and bring calm.