Healed by Nature: The Mental Health Benefits of Being Outdoors

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Mother Nature is one of the best ways to help with mental health. It’s the perfect antidote to a pretty rotten day. The blowing wind, chirping bird sounds, the raindrops — everything about nature really, is so therapeutic. Just like a tight hug, a lovely kiss, and words of affirmation, a little time outdoors can help you immediately feel better after a bad day. But, are people really healed by nature?

For many people, nature is healing. In fact, a growing body of research has found that spending time in nature can help with anxiety and depression.

So, how does nature affect your mental health? One study found that people who spent just two hours per week in nature were much more likely to report higher levels of psychological wellbeing than those who didn’t spend time outdoors. 

Spending time outdoors is beneficial for mental health and it may be good for physical health, since, in some ways, the mind can heal the body. This might explain why physicians In Canada have begun prescribing access to nature to patients

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of nature on mental health.

The Science of Why Nature is Healing 

Research confirms that nature is healing when it comes to mental health. In fact, just a few minutes in nature can reinvigorate a tired brain. Nature has been associated with increased happiness and decreased stress. People say that spending time in nature gives them a sense of purpose and meaning in life. 

How Nature Affects Anxiety

There is strong evidence to support the idea that spending time in nature can help reduce stress and anxiety. Being in nature has been found to lower stress hormones and reduce blood pressure, both of which promote calm. 

It makes sense that nature would offer all of these psychological benefits. After all, humans evolved to exist in a natural setting. We have an innate connection to nature. Being in a place that we connect so closely makes us feel happy. Urban areas may seem a rational choice, but our brains haven’t had enough time to adjust to all of the concrete and indoor time. It still craves natural exposure.

Mindful Ways to Spend Time In Nature 

Here are some easy ways to reap the benefits of nature on mental health.

#1 Take A Mindful Walk 

You can boost your mood simply by walking. Take a stroll through a local park or nature reserve. Focus on the sights and sounds that surround you. As you walk underneath the canopy of trees, take note of the sounds that you hear. Pay attention to the refreshing feel of fresh, cool air as it enters your lungs. Or, just sit outside near a beautiful lake and listen to the sounds of the water. This is a very relaxing way to enjoy the benefits of nature on mental health.

#2 Meditate Outdoors  

benefits of nature on mental health

Meditation is all about connecting with nature. Meditation allows you to personalize your experience, which is what makes it so appealing. Listen, focus, and observe in nature. The good news is that you don’t have to be in the wilderness to meditate in nature. Try going to the local city park or green space. Not able to get outside to meditate? Use one of the meditation apps instead. Many offer various pleasant nature sounds.

#3 Go Camping 

Camping is one of the best ways to ways enjoy nature. It allows you to completely unplug and immerse yourself in the outdoors. Just camping in the woods and listening to the sounds of nature can give you a mental boost. In fact, in one research study, those who listened to nature sounds performed better on cognitive tests compared to those who listened to the sounds of a busy cafe. 

Camping makes a great solo activity, as well. If you are feeling stressed or anxious all the time, taking a break from your phone and computer can allow you to reset and come back home feeling refreshed. 

Are You Enjoying Nature Yet?

It’s so important to care for your mental health and enjoying time outdoors can help you do just that. Nature offers a simple way to help with mental health and practice self-care. However, if you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns, it’s important to also seek therapy along with practicing self-care. Nature by itself is not a treatment for mental health issues. But, it can help.

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