Are you and your spouse about to start arguing? Do you have to discuss an important topic that is stressful for both of you? If so, step outside!
If you saw our recent Facebook Live video, you saw that we were filming in a beautiful garden. Prior to that, we had attended a really important, and somewhat stressful, business meeting. That stress melted quickly as we strolled around the garden, soaking in God’s creation.
3 reasons you should take it outside:
1. Nature reduces stress.
In a 2014 Japanese study, scientists found that subjects had a reduced level of cortisol when they were placed in a forest. They also had decreases in blood pressure, heart rate, and the “fight or flight” response. Parasympathetic nervous activity, or the part of the nervous system that makes people relax, increased by 55 percent in study participants.
Arguments are stressful…so reduce the stress by going for a walk in the park. Your spouse and your body will thank you.
2. Nature restores balance.
In a study in Mind, 95% of interviewees said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from stressed and anxious to more calm and balanced. Other studies by Ulrich, Kim, and Cervinka show that time in nature or scenes of nature are associated with a positive mood, and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality.
A positive mood can turn an argument around quickly. It can help you see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. It can even remind you that With God, All Things Are Possible.
3. Nature creates connection.
According to studies conducted by Kuo and Coley at the Human-Environment Research Lab, time spent in nature connects us to each other. This experience of connection may be explained by studies that used fMRI to measure brain activity. When participants viewed nature scenes, the parts of the brain associated with empathy and love lit up, but when they viewed urban scenes, the parts of the brain associated with fear and anxiety were activated. It appears as though nature inspires feelings that connect us to each other and our environment.
Disagreements, or even a difference of opinion, can drive a wedge between a couple. Placing ourselves in a natural environment will set us up for success in connectivity. When we were in the garden this past week, I noticed that Steve and I held hands and were generally affectionate with each much more than we had been all week.
Now that I think about it…doesn’t it make sense that we, who were created in a perfect natural garden, would grow closer to each other and to God surrounded by similar natural environments?
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Psalm 96:11-12
Where can you go the next time you and your spouse need to have a “discussion?”