"Do you find yourself longing for the apocalypse?"
That's the opening line of one of the most intriguing "drug commercials" we've seen in a while. And just like the opening sentence of the commercial, their recommendation for how to cure what ails you is probably less obvious than it should be: nature.
They may be mocking the absurd amount of marketed drugs for depression and anxiety, but when you cut through the satire, Nature Rx has a pretty good point.
"Are you feeling tired, irritable, stressed out? Well, you might consider: nature."
Several studies have actually illuminated the amazing ways that time outdoors, spent with nature, can help improve your quality of life.
For starters, nature has a direct effect on what's happening inside your body. Sunlight hitting your skin activates the process that creates Vitamin D, which is important for calcium absorption that makes strong bones. Not just that, but being outside generally promotes activity which has been linked to preventing obesity and keeping children active. Even just facing outdoors, as opposed to looking at a wall, has helped improve recovery rates for hospital patients (and their general happiness during that recovery).
"Nature is recommended for humans of all ages."
Some researchers even looked at the way a child's environment effects their productivity and general well-being. One such test revealed that children with ADD were left "in a far more relaxed, focused state" when participating in "green" activities. Others have gone further, saying that nature simply reduces ADD symptoms.
But that's just the beginning.
Psychologists have long been studying attention restoration theory (ART), which observes the way our attention is used in certain environments. What they found was that urban environments are constantly taking from us; horns, street lights, traffic, they all require our directed attention, while nature — things like streams, trees and grass — only need involuntary attention, and that requires far less effort.
"Caution: nature may cause you to slow down, quit your job, or seriously consider what the f*ck you're doing with your life."
A new study suggests time in nature may have an effect on our political and environmental landscape, as well. According to a paper from psychologist John M. Zelenski, people who spend time in nature tend to make more environmentally friendly and sustainable decisions. Those choices can have a major effect on us, the planet and the way we view the animal kingdom.
If that's not enough, consider that according to the University of Rochester, something as meager as "being outside in nature for just 20 minutes in a day was enough to significantly boost vitality levels."