The benefits of nature on mental health is profound. Getting outside and exploring nature boosts your mood and lowers stress. Being outdoors can make you happier and healthier.
I grew up on a cattle farm. Our home was surrounded by pasture and I would spend countless hours wandering through the trees, building forts, searching for treasure, rocks, and bones. I would never call myself outdoorsy or a nature buff. In fact, I would much rather be in my jammies on my couch watching movies or playing video games. But I will be the first to admit that there are so many benefits to spending time outdoors and in nature.
4 Scientific Benefits of Nature on Mental Health:
Spending time in and with the natural elements of the earth has a number of benefits for physical and mental health.
Nature reduces blood pressure and the hormone cortisol which is produced in the adrenal gland. Cortisol is ‘the stress hormone.’ Elevated cortisol levels lead to decreased focus and concentration, increase in blood sugar, and lower immune function. So, spending time surrounded by natural beauty decreases cortisol production and improves short-term memory, focus and problem-solving skills.
Spending time outside with friends and family strengthens bonds and helps ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Outdoor spaces offer more opportunities to interact with people; creating a sense of community and belonging.
Restored Mental Energy:
Being outside and in nature seems to help to rebalance the spirit. It improves focus and concentration, sharpens thinking and problem-solving, inspires creativity. It improves our vision and sleep habits. The beauty of nature grounds us and reminds us to be present.
Spending time in nature often means you are moving more. Everyone knows exercise has many benefits for the body but it also has major benefits for the mind. Exercise releases endorphins, a mood-lifting chemical in the brain. It helps with better sleep, focus and concentration, increases energy levels, improves memory, boosts self-esteem, and helps to feel more relaxed
What is Nature-Based Therapy or Ecotherapy?
Ecotherapy refers to the human-nature relationship and exploring that relationship for healing and growth. There has been an increase in nature-based therapy and interventions for mental health problems. Many professionals are exploring using nature as a setting for health interventions such as exercise programs and holistic therapy.
What if I live in a city?
More cities are finding ways to build green spaces into the urban atmosphere. Try to find a green space, water source, trees, birds, natural light, sky. Just enjoy what is around you and be mindful.
Make being outside fun:
There are soooooo many things you can do outside and in nature. Here is a short list:
- Play a sport
- Ultimate frisbee
- Frisbee golf
- Horseback riding
- Bike rides
- Go for a walk
- Scavenger hunt
- Go to the zoo
What is your favourite outdoor activity?
~ Lacey ~