Many people overlook the positive impact that the natural environment has on mental health. Your surroundings can vastly affect the way you think and feel – and regular exposure to nature has been shown to be healthy for the mind, body and soul. Here are four of the reasons why connecting to nature is crucial for your mental wellbeing.
The Calming Effects of Nature
Nature has long been known to have calming effects on the mind. The beauty and serenity of nature create a sense of peace that you usually won’t be able to find in busy urban environments. Thus, spending time in nature is one of the most effective ways to reduce everyday stress and mental fatigue. Being in such a spacious, relaxing environment helps your mind to recharge and put you in a positive mood. Going barefoot in nature is even more beneficial, as it allows your body to come into direct contact with the earth and truly connect with nature. Getting outside and walking barefoot has been shown to help regulate the nervous system, strengthen immunity and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
How Nature Calms Depression
The use of nature as a form of therapy has gained the interest of scientists, researchers and nature enthusiasts. Reconnecting with nature has been shown to be beneficial for easing some of the symptoms of depression. The very act of being in nature promotes mindfulness and gratitude. The inherent ‘peace and quiet’ of natural environments can help to clear your mind of unnecessary worries and reduce feelings of anger and tension.
The great outdoors also encourages healthy physical activity, which is a major factor in battling depression. Not only does exercise increase your energy levels and make you physically stronger, but it also makes you feel happier. Movement produces endorphins, the natural chemicals in your body that elicit feelings of pleasure. When you combine the benefits of exercise with the mood-boosting effects of being in nature, you’ll address both the emotional and physical needs of your body.
Natural Light Improves Sleep
Poor quality sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health. Problems with sleeping are commonly linked to mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Spending more time in nature exposes your body to natural light – which can do wonders to improve your sleep patterns. Natural light helps to regulate your natural body clock, and having a good dose of sunlight regularly will allow you to normalize your sleep schedule and ensure you wake up feeling rejuvenated.
Nature Encourages Social Connection
Social connection is important for your mental health and overall well-being. Getting outside in nature forces you to unplug from technology and connect with the people around you. Green spaces provide an array of opportunities for people to engage in group social activities like sports and nature-based activities. These outdoor group activities encourage social inclusion and help to build strong social communities of people. This can help provide people with a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Exposure to nature has been proven to be a key factor in maintaining good physical, social and mental health. The calming effects of the natural environment are particularly beneficial for easing stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Getting out into the great outdoors is a habit that you should incorporate into daily life – whether that involves hiking in the woods, going to the local park or simply sitting in your green garden. Regularly reconnecting with the natural world will allow you to live a much healthier, happier lifestyle.
Author Bio:Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand who is passionate about nature and the outdoors. When she’s not hiking and camping with friends, you’ll find her spending hours in her garden. Check out more of her work on Tumblr.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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