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Nature and Relief from COVID Stress

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The coronavirus pandemic has again drawn attention to the benefits of spending time in contact with the natural world. A recent survey in the UK found that nearly two-thirds of adults reported that spending time in God’s creation provided relief from stress related to the COVID-19 crisis: “Nearly half the respondents… felt that spending time in green spaces has helped them cope with rising pandemic-related anxiety” (EuroNews, December 30, 2020). Another report from the University of Vermont found that almost 60 percent of those participating in the study experienced improved mental health and a reduction in stress as a result of spending time outdoors during the pandemic (medicalnewstoday.com, January 3, 2021).

Experiencing the benefits of nature does not always require hiking on a remote mountain trail. All that is needed is getting outside and being around trees, water, birds, animals, and flowers. A walk by a river or a canal, watching squirrels scampering around on the grass under a tree, noticing clouds moving across the sky, enjoying a beautiful sunset—even looking at a peaceful picture or photo of the natural world—can have a beneficial impact on one’s health. While scientists do not know exactly why exposure to God’s creation generates such positive effects, these studies continue to demonstrate the benefits of contact with nature.

Ancient King David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), noted the pleasurable nature of green pastures and still waters (Psalm 23:2) and how looking to the hills brought to mind the reassurance of God’s presence (Psalm 121). As we spend time in the creation, we are reminded of the Creator and how small we are in His presence. We are also removed from the stress, noise, and chaos of our man-made environment. The wind, the trees, the sound of water, and watching animals interact naturally is calming. Perhaps this is one reason people flock to lakes, oceans, and mountains to “get away” on holiday. God made the creation to be a blessing for mankind. To learn more about what the Bible reveals concerning ways to stay healthy, be sure to read Biblical Principles of Health.