Nature And Mental Health: 4 Science-Based Ways Nature Can Improve Wellbeing
Being a tree hugger pays off!
Most of us can agree that getting into nature makes us feel good, and there’s good reason for that! Nature and mental health are actually connected in surprising ways — let’s use them to our advantage!
1. Getting Into Nature Helps Regulate Our Hormones
Amazing, right? Simply immersing ourselves in nature has the power to regulate our hormones, from the stress hormone cortisol to the hormones that control our circadian rhythms.
While it’s not exactly clear how being in nature causes reductions in stress, anxiety and depression, there is a growing body of research from esteemed research facilities such as Harvard Medical School and Yale that are finding and investigating these benefits of getting outside. Even without knowing the how, I think we can all benefit from a little more time outdoors! In fact, certain countries have introduced public health recommendations that include spending five hours in the forest per month to prevent depression.
When it comes to our circadian rhythms, simply being exposed to natural light — especially in the morning — can do wonders for our bodies, which are kept indoors the majority of the time. The effects of having a well-regulated circadian rhythm? Increased energy, better sleep, and better mood.
2. Physical Activity In Nature = Pure Magic
Want to increase the benefits of getting out into nature tenfold? Throw some physical activity into the mix!
Go for a walk in a local park, go biking, hiking, running… anything that will get you moving! By moving your body outside, you get all the benefits of exercise — increased fitness, strength, that endorphin rush; the list goes on — plus the stress-relieving, blood-pressure lowering, vitamin D producing benefits of being in nature .
The benefits of exercising and getting out into nature both compliment and enhance each other. In other words, try going for a nice long walk sometime today if you are able to do so!
3. Being Outdoors Lowers Blood Pressure
Another great connection between nature and mental health? It reduces our blood pressure, which is associated with high levels of stress, anxiety and anger.
This phenomenon is believed to be closely related to the stress-relieving benefits of nature. This is also simply being due to the fact that in nature there is an abundance of fresh, clean air to breathe; in environments where the air is more polluted, our bodies have more trouble getting the oxygen we need, which increases blood pressure.
4. The Wilderness Is A Great Place To Unplug
This one is simple, but so powerful: when we’re immersed in nature, it’s easy to unplug from our technology.
When surrounded by trees, ocean, mountains or anything else, it’s so much easier to stay in the moment… without checking how many likes you got on that last photo every five minutes.
In the world of instant gratification that we live in, it is really beneficial to take step back sometimes; allow ourselves to be rather than do. Not to mention, it’s harmful to our mental health when we are constantly absorbed in the world of social media, comparing ourselves to others and being bombarded with messages.
Of course, this is one link between nature and mental health that depends on you. You are the only one who can make the decision to stay away from your technology for a bit while outside. Try going for a walk without your phone this week, and see how things go!
Nature and mental health are linked in a ton of fascinating and incredible ways. In short, get outside and enjoy the benefits nature has to offer!
If you found value in this post or have experience with the benefits of nature for mental health, I’d love to hear from you! Be sure to connect with me on Pinterest and Instagram so that we can hang out! In the meantime, have a beautiful day.
Wishing you so much joy and light,
Other Posts from the Blog You Might Like
↑1 Sour mood getting you down? Get back to nature from Harvard Medical School. Published July 2018.
↑2 Spend Time in Nature to Reduce Stress and Anxiety from Heart.org. Published August, 2018.
↑3 White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019).Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing
↑4 NCBI, Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Christine Blume,1,2,3Corrado Garbazza,1,2 and Manuel Spitschan, published August 2019
↑5 Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review from Children & Nature Network
↑6 The great outdoors: how a green exercise environment can benefit all Gladwell, Valerie F et al. Extreme physiology & medicine vol. 2,1 3. 3 Jan. 2013
↑7 It’s official — spending time outside is good for you, Science Daily, University of East Anglia. Published July 2018.