EPISODE #926

8 Natural Landscapes That Will Restore Your Energy

Emma Loewe

Science proves just how much nature benefits your body, mind and soul (in as little as 40 seconds!).
Photo by Philip Catterall

In this Episode of The Human Upgrade™...

…you’ll learn how nature, human health, and climate activism interconnect. Emma Loewe, environmental journalist and senior sustainability editor at mindbodygreen, joins the show to share how nature can restore all aspects of your health. You’ll find out how you can reap the benefits of specific nature landscapes, wherever you live or roam.

You’ll come away from this episode with:

  • Tips on how to combat stress, anxiety and burnout by being outdoors.
  • Actions you can take to conserve the landscapes you care about.
  • Mindset shifts that will change the way you think about the climate crisis.

In her new book, “Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us,” she’s researched the ways eight distinct nature landscapes improve your physical, mental and spiritual health.

  • Parks & Gardens
  • Oceans & Coasts
  • Mountains & Highlands
  • Forests & Trees
  • Ice & Snow
  • Deserts & Drylands
  • Rivers & Streams
  • Cities & Built Environments

Emma shares research-backed ways to explore nature now and protect it for the future, including SRT (stress-reduction theory). This theory says that humans are hardwired to relax while looking at environments that have extensive views, areas to retreat, and essential resources like shade and water. Those benefits make your brain work better.

“The cognitive benefits of getting outdoors seem to be very interesting,” Emma says. ‘’A lot of research finds that, once you return inside from a trip outdoors, you score better on things like working memory tests. You tend to have less brain activity in certain regions that are responsible for things like negative self-talk or rumination.”

"People report less stress when they get back from time outdoors. It also shows in their physiology. They have lower cortisol levels, lower blood pressure, lower heart rate."

Emma Loewe

And then there’s awe:

“Awe is essentially what we feel when we’re placed in an environment that is vast or we perceive it as being vast,” Emma explains. “It’s interesting in that it’s one of the few emotions that really causes us to reconsider our place in the world and it’s almost no surprise that it causes us to re-situate ourselves in our environment. So, in doing that, it’s been shown that it can increase things like creativity. It can increase curiosity, pro-social behavior, and it also makes us feel like we have more time, which I think is really cool. It just sort of opens up our world in more ways than one.”

Return to Nature” also offers:

  • Mindful exercises you can do in short or long chunks of time that allow you to fully experience nature when you’re in it.
  • Additional resources about the eight natural landscapes Emma writes about.
  • Nearly 30 pages of research references!

More about Emma Loewe:

She received degrees in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University.

During her career writing about the environment, Emma’s covered topics such as the water crisis in California, sustainable fish farms in Norway, and the latest innovations from IKEA’s design lab in Sweden.

She previously co-authored “The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care,” which covers rituals that incorporate science-backed techniques like breathwork, meditation, and aromatherapy, as well as more esoteric offerings like astrology, crystals, and tarot. It also includes the history of ritual and traces ancient spiritual practices through the ages.

Enjoy the show!

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  • How did you get the interest in ancient healing modalities? 1:19
  • There’s also sort of the cognitive benefits of getting outdoors seem to be very interesting. A lot of research finds that, once you return inside from a trip outdoors, you score better on things like working memory tests.  – 6:06
  • In terms of things like creative thinking and problem solving, there’s research to show that actually helps to look out onto more open, expansive space, than focus in on your computer. – 11:01
  • You have eight different landscapes that do different things. Can you tell me what those eight are?  – 13:20
  • There’s also a section on how to bring that landscape to you. So with coastlines, for example, there’s actually some cool research to find that even listening to the sounds of waves. – 17:17
  • 40% of Earthlings live within 50 or so miles of the coastline. So what is the deal with humans and coastlines? Why do you think that is?  – 26:35
  • So rivers and streams are interesting. I sort of think of them as an amalgamation of a few different landscapes.  – 31:22
  • What they found was that, if they play the sounds of nature, like birds chirping, and insects whirring, and all that sort of stuff, in an orchard or around crops, that the yield of the crop goes up dramatically.  – 35:31
  • People who did the same program outdoors, and I believe it was a garden setting, were more likely to complete the program. They completed it faster on average and they still got the same benefits out of it, even though they did complete it faster.  – 38:38
  • Do you think it’s more important to be in novel nature environments or more important to be in familiar nature environments?  – 42:01
  • Horticultural therapy is a thing. I don’t dive into it super deeply in the book, but just having some sort of aspect of nature indoors, I think it can be helpful for a lot of people.  – 48:27
  • My book walks through a lot of different mindset shifts, so that might be helpful for encouraging more sustainable action. So I would en encourage readers and listeners to pay it forward to our poor Earth.52:25

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