Nature and Mental Health

nature and mental health benefits
“Nature connectedness isn’t the biggest predictor of happiness but the association of the two is quite consistent. ” -John Zelenski

 

A global trend in urban living and our growing reliance on technology may have influenced us to spend less and less time outside in nature. Nonetheless, for many people the pandemic has made a change on the daily walks outdoors and enjoying nature might have become a more common habit than it has been before. How does spending time outdoors actually help us and what are the true benefits of spending time in nature?

While the restaurants, museums, and other activity centres were closed there was always one place to escape to, the one which is open the whole year-round without any restrictions. The nature around us has always been a welcoming place. Nature offers us an opportunity to take a break from our everyday duties, to explore or wander around for our daily walks. For some people, nature may have been providing a feeling of comfort, safety, and peace they might have been struggling to experience elsewhere during the pandemic.

nature and mental health benefits

Many psychological studies have found connections between our general wellbeing and spending time outdoors. For spending time in nature several studies have found a response that lowers stress and increases a feeling of calmness and happiness. Thus, there’s an influence of a lowering of our stress hormone and increasing feel-good hormone levels when we are wandering outdoors.  

Spending time in nature has also been found to benefit our cognitive flexibility, attentional control and improve working memory. Some studies have also found an increase in experience of a sense of meaning and purpose when spending time in nature. Nature can also be beneficial for decreased mental distress and increased emotional well-being. Just pictures of nature have already been found to improve positive emotions and the ability to reflect on life problems. Even houseplants can cause different positive psychological benefits. Nonetheless, only walking in nature for a few minutes per day can have a remarkable impact on one’s mental and physical health. 

How and when have you experienced the benefits of spending time in nature?   

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.” – Alice Walker

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