Could A Walk In Nature Be A Cheat Code To Happiness?

There are few things that bring the instant mental calmness that a walk in the woods does. I’ve tried sitting in silence, cross legged in a room, focusing on my breaths hoping to introduce equanimity to my chaos. So far I’ve found motion beats meditation.

On days when the printer doesn’t work, the accounting software crashes, the internet and point of sale machine go down and suppliers don’t deliver products on time for our customer appointments, I like to find a non-self-destructive way to decompress. Like eco-therapy.

One doesn’t need any reason for a brief return to nature. We’re naturally drawn to it.

Disconnecting from the web and social media and reconnecting with nature’s wifi, we are rewarded for practicing mindfulness. The sound of cicadas that remind us of a leisurely summer day or the relaxing sound of cricket choirs helping us unwind like a nocturne. The vegetal fragrances of flowers, wet grass and leaves in the Fall that anchor our memories to a time and place. With a slow stroll, we notice chipmunks and deer who are well camouflaged going about their lives and missed by those with low awareness zipping by on bikes or engrossed in their smartphones. Looking up we may see auspicious hawks, ravens or bats foreshadowing good things to come.

Walking takes little mental bandwidth. When our minds are free of artificial distractions we’ll notice some of our best ideas will randomly appear without any effort to tease them out. Solutions to intractable problems, epiphanies or unique insights.

If you enjoy walks in nature you’re in good company. So too did many of history’s greatest thinkers:

Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Socrates, Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant and William Wordsworth. Maybe there’s a connection between walking and thinking or walking and creativity.

Recognizing the benefits of time spent in nature, British Columbia doctors have began prescribing nature therapy.


Although a bit pretentious sounding, shinrin-yoku translates from Japanese to “forest bathing”. Many cultures recognize the healing power of nature and continue to live in harmony with it, slowly adopting modern trappings.

As part of the bargain for civilization made possible by the social contract, we have distanced ourselves from nature. Many of us occupy and are surrounded by linear monstrosities and ugly architecture (see Brutalist


building below). These structures have an understated effect on our psyche. An extreme example of this is The Broken Windows Theory


. Usually most urban planners will incorporate some parks and nature in their design recognizing the importance of green spaces to the citizens wellbeing.

Forests have their own inborn aesthetics. The absence of straight lines. The use of fractals in trees, shorelines and tributaries. The brilliant colours of flora and fauna.

What are the health benefits of spending time or exercising in nature?

  • It lowers cortisol (stress hormone).
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Increased vitamin D production (sunshine vitamin)
  • Increased white blood cells (immune cells) through breathing in Phytoncides (antimicrobial and antifungal chemicals produced by trees)
  • Improves mood
  • Improves sleep

Could it be that the next addition to your wellness routine could involve more time spent in nature each week?