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Throughout history across cultures, well being has been repeatedly recorded as having a direct relationship with one’s psychological and physical connection with nature. Though this philosophy has been carried on for a long time, there are many people who continue disregard it. Not only psychological regard, but physical. I say this because in America the percentage of people living in rich nature environments (rural) has diminished tremendously, and is not expected to stop.
People spend little to know time outside each day, apart from walking to theirs cars.
Time spent outside as a whole has decreased for people of all ages, but our youth is our future. What children seem to be replacing outdoor time with is screen time. With so little interest in what’s going on outside the walls of their home, knowledge of even the most common species of nature is being forgotten. The worst part is, for people who spend so much time apart from nature, we are still the ones contributing to its environmental issues the most.
It’s believed that people’s well being is better off with good connectedness with nature, as well as nature’s with people. Evidence to support this claim is based in psychological benefits such as enhanced well being and mental health.
There are two main parts of a person’s connection with nature, nature contact and nature connectedness. Natura contact is your physical presence and involvement with the nature around you. Nature connectedness is the psychological connection with the natural world around you.
This part of a person’s connection with nature is defined as a state, that can change depending on the current situation. As expected, someone who spends a lot of time outdoors with have a better connectedness with nature. The two parts are related seeing as an increased physical connection will lead to an increased psychological connection, vice versa. If you take the time to understand nature, you may find yourself spending time with it more often. But, what does all of this really lead to and why is it so important? Research has been done to answer this question and while even more can be done, some advantages have already been found.
There are 3 theories that address why why nature has such a positive impact on well being. The first theory, biophilia hypothesis, indicates that long ago connectedness with nature was a crucial part of survival and we should continue to carry out the tradition. The second theory, attention restoration theory, separates connectedness into two types of attentions: direct and involuntary. Direct attention requires a lot of focus and depletes overtime, making it limited. As it depletes, it also can cause negative emotions and mental states. Involuntary attention doesn’t require any effort at all and can actually bring about a positive mentality. Research on this theory has shown how nature is a way for people to get away and reduce stress. Because of this it increases involuntary attentions and induces that positive mentality. This includes improved concentration, emotional functioning, and voluntary (directed) attention. The last theory, stress-reduction theory, says that exposure to the parts of natural that used to be crucial to survival can reduce stress. When a person is stressed, they are in an increased state of arousal; nature decreases arousal, which decreases stress.
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