The Rise of the Nature Prescription

By: Annie Daly

Published: April 09, 2019

There are so many of these nature studies, it’s hard to keep track, but the overall conclusion is clear across the board: Spending time with Mother Earth is one of the best things you can possibly do for your health. Of course, the only problem is: What if you live in a very urban environment, like New York and Los Angeles, where there aren’t exactly huge, green forests right in your backyard?

Fear not—all is not lost.

“Forest bathing” practitioners say that you don’t have to go all Henry David Thoreau and live a full-on transcendental life to get the effect. Turns out, spending time in urban parks is totally fine, too, as is walking along your street if it happens to be covered in trees. The point is that humans are creatures of nature, and we need to do everything we can to honor that connection on a day-to-day basis. With all of the technology and the Netflix and the Seamless and the indoor everything, it’s easier than ever to lose our connection to Mother Earth—but a word of advice? Don’t. Do everything in your power to avoid this fate. Make it a huge priority to get yourself into nature for at least 20 minutes every day, whatever that may look like for you. Perhaps that means stepping off the treadmill at your local gym and taking your three-mile run outside, even if it’s not super nice out. Or maybe it means getting your friends together to take a group fitness class or a bootcamp class in the park, rather than taking one indoors. You can even ask your personal trainer to exercise with you outside. Night walks are a solid option, too. If you live near a park, try taking a walk after dinner to go hang out with the trees and the stars instead of the latest Netflix special.

If you want to truly take it to the next level, you could even consider moving to a spot that’s closer to nature when your lease is up—it’s that important. If that’s not possible, though, try hanging some photos of nature on your walls, or making your computer desktop a big collage of green trees. Sure, it’s not totally the same thing, but studies have shown that people who simply look at scenes of nature are less stressed than those who don’t—so it’s worth trying to see how it works for you.

The point is that we all need to push spending time in nature to the top of our priority list. Whatever you can do to make it happen, do it—it’s worth it. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you. And you’d better believe that Mother Nature will welcome you with open (and very green) arms.