Over the past decade, various studies have pointed to the benefits that Nature can have on human physical and mental health to boost wellbeing. However, our senses also play an important role in Nature’s ability to lower our stress hormone levels.
Did you know, for instance, that simply looking at images of Nature enhances vision and improves your mental health?
The senses have a powerful transformative ability to envelop us in an oasis of calm, as it were, within our immediate environment. They are the ultimate mindfulness metaverse as well as a means of escape from our daily stressors. If you always wondered how you could tap into each of your senses to boost your health and wellbeing, read on.
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Immersing the Sense of Sight in Beauty
We mentioned that gazing at beautiful images of Nature can boost your sense of psychological wellbeing, but contact with nature also has important physiological benefits, as found in a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
The study showed that visual contact with flowers, green plants, and wooden items had positive effects on the brain and nervous system. In the study, participants who viewed these items showed reduced stress, enhanced fatigue recovery, and greater relaxation.
The scientists pointed to an activity called shinrin-yoku or forest bathing, in which people visit forests and open all their senses to the surrounding beauty. They found that in this type of activity, benefits were felt immediately.
A World of Fragrance
Smells can also have transformative qualities, which easily explains why the perfume and candle industry are both booming in post-pandemic times, since many people are still battling stress and the aftermath of a difficult two years. Those in need of greater calm often opt for candles containing relaxing oils like lavender.
Not just any oils will do, of course. To have an authentic effect, therapeutic-grade essential oils like lavender should be used. Instead of synthetic perfume, employ skin-friendly oils like jasmine, rose, bergamot, and chamomile to lift your mood and help you feel more energized.
Healing through Hearing
If you want to feel more positive about life, listen to water in natural surroundings. The gentle gurgling of a brook or the power of a waterfall are transformative, as found in research published in 2018 in the journal Medicine.
If you don’t live near an area with stunning water features around you, don’t worry. Invest in a small indoor or outdoor water fountain and let the flow of water ease your stress away.
Textures that Matter
What you touch can also affect your health. Earlier we talked about shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. This activity does not only involve immersing yourself in the woods and marveling at the beauty you witness but rather, immersing all your senses fully.
As such, in Japan, shinrin-yoku practitioners listen to the sound of the leaves beneath their fit, watch out for birds and other animals, and use their sense of touch. They run their fingers along trees, feel leaves between their hands, and gently touch flowers and other flora without harming it. This enables them to enjoy a more profound connection to Nature
Flavors of Life
You probably don’t need much convincing when it comes to the power of food to bring you comfort and warmth. Across the globe, different cultures all have their preferred foods—those that celebrate tradition, add spice to a meal, and dazzle with their aroma. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found that human beings “eat tasty foods as a strategy to reduce stress.”
When embracing comfort through food, aim for healthy versions of the flavors you enjoy to boost wellbeing. For instance, if you are up for something energizing, go for raw chocolate with peppermint or bergamot essential oil, instead of commercial milk chocolate (which is super high in sugar). If you feel like something sweet, go for your favorite fruit salad instead of refined sweets.
Article by Jennifer Alli