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The Therapeutic Power of Feeling Small: Nature's Daily Reminder


Introduction


In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it's easy to become consumed by our own problems and challenges, losing sight of the bigger picture. However, nature has a profound way of offering perspective, reminding us of our place in the vastness of the world. This blog explores the psychological effects of feeling small, using the awe-inspiring examples of Table Mountain, coastal living, and the starry nights of the Karoo, and how actively seeking these experiences, as demonstrated by Big Inja Farming's Watchtower in Johannesburg, can positively impact our well-being.





The Majesty of Table Mountain:


Capetonians are greeted daily by the imposing presence of Table Mountain, a natural masterpiece that dwarfs the urban landscape. The sheer magnitude of this natural wonder provides a daily reminder of the insignificance of our problems in comparison to the grandeur of nature. Scientific research supports the idea that exposure to natural landscapes can reduce stress and increase feelings of well-being (Kaplan, 1995).





Endless Ocean Vistas:


Imagine waking up to a 180-degree view of an endless ocean—the rhythmic waves crashing against the shore, the horizon stretching as far as the eye can see. Coastal living offers a constant visual reminder of the vastness of the world, encouraging individuals to see beyond their immediate concerns. Studies have shown that exposure to water environments can have a calming effect on the mind (White, 2010), fostering a sense of tranquility and reducing anxiety.




Starry Nights in the Karoo:


For those lucky enough to live in the Karoo, cloudless nights open up a celestial spectacle. The expansive, unobstructed view of the night sky serves as a humbling reminder of the enormity of the universe. Research indicates that stargazing can evoke feelings of awe, which has been linked to increased life satisfaction and decreased stress (Keltner and Haidt, 2003).



Seeking Perspective in Johannesburg:


In bustling urban centres like Johannesburg, the daily reminders of our smallness may be less evident. However, actively seeking out such experiences becomes crucial for maintaining a healthy perspective. Big Inja Farming's Watchtower, strategically positioned to face due West, offers an opportunity for residents to pause and witness the beauty of the sunset, engaging with nature to re-calibrate their mental state.





The Psychological Benefits of Watching Sunsets:


Scientific research supports the positive impact of watching sunsets on mental well-being. A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology (Catalino et al., 2017) found that people who actively savoured and appreciated natural beauty, such as sunsets, reported higher levels of well-being and life satisfaction. Additionally, exposure to natural light during sunset can help regulate circadian rhythms, contributing to improved sleep quality (Gooley et al., 2017).





Conclusion:


Nature, with its vast landscapes and celestial wonders, offers a daily reminder of our place in the world, fostering a sense of humility and perspective. Whether it's the imposing Table Mountain, the endless ocean vistas, or the starry nights of the Karoo, these natural wonders have the power to positively influence our psychological well-being. In urban centers like Johannesburg, where such reminders may be less apparent, actively seeking out nature's embrace becomes crucial. The creation of spaces like Big Inja Farming's Watchtower serves as a testament to the therapeutic potential of connecting with nature, allowing us to experience the daily magic that can help minimize our problems in the grand scheme of things.





References:

  • Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15(3), 169-182.

  • White, M. P., Alcock, I., Wheeler, B. W., & Depledge, M. H. (2010). Coastal proximity, health and well-being: Results from a longitudinal panel survey. Health & Place, 17(2), 581-591.

  • Keltner, D., & Haidt, J. (2003). Approaching awe, a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion. Cognition and Emotion, 17(2), 297-314.

  • Catalino, L. I., Algoe, S. B., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2017). Prioritizing positivity: An effective approach to pursuing happiness? Emotion, 17(1), 120-134.

  • Gooley, J. J., Chamberlain, K., Smith, K. A., Khalsa, S. B. S., Rajaratnam, S. M. W., Van Reen, E., ... & Lockley, S. W. (2011). Exposure to room light before bedtime suppresses melatonin onset and shortens melatonin duration in humans. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 96(3), E463-E472.

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