For years now, the World Health Organization has been raising the alarm about the serious risk of depression as an increasing global epidemic and in recent years officially classified depression as the leading cause of disease and disability worldwide. Depression is a major problem for public health and a debilitating condition that reduces the quality of every area of one’s life. It impacts individuals in many ways and to varying degrees and includes all those with and without a medical diagnosis.
There are many theories and ideas put forth about what is to blame for this mental health epidemic, that impacts people across all countries and income levels. There is no doubt that the rising pressures and increasingly faster and complex pace of daily life, along with the information, digital and technological overload are key factors to blame. However, there is something else that needs to be brought to light when it comes to one of the biggest root causes of this condition. This being our connection to nature and its presence in our life, or lack thereof, in our modern world.
In our technologically-advanced and materially-driven world, we have continued to disconnect and pull ourselves further and further away from the natural world. Anyone who lives in the midst of any large or small city today barely has any daily or meaningful interaction with nature. Sure there may be a tree here and there or some kind of green space, but overall this is a tiny fraction, to the point of often being insignificant, compared to the concentration of man-made structures around us. And as we know from a multitude of research, nature and the natural world are highly healing and protective for our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. In fact, a meaningful connection to nature and time spent in nature are amongst the most effective ways to prevent and overcome depression.
One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Sadhguru shares a very simple yet profound message that I feel whole-heartedly captures the monumental problem we face as a society when it comes to this mental health challenge. This being, “The further we move away from Nature, the further we move away from our own nature.”
Therefore, if we are interested in protecting our mental health, and helping ourselves, healing ourselves, and improving the quality of our life, we must re-establish our connection to nature. May you bless yourself with an abundance of time in the natural world. Nature reflects the timeless truths of life and is the best teacher and healer we can ever ask for to stay connected with our true nature.