How Nature Can Help Your Mental Health
Did you know spending time in nature can have a positive impact on your mental health? Research shows it can help with a wide range of mental health problems including anxiety and depression. Being outside in natural light can also be beneficial if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects people during particular seasons or times of year.
What Are the Benefits?
Spending time outside in green spaces or bringing elements of nature into your home can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. Nature provides a break from day-to-day life, helping you move away from the fluorescent lights and computer screens that tend to dominate in the workplace. Being active helps reduce anxiety and depression and a spacious environment helps with relaxation.
Things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger and help you feel more relaxed. It can also help you be more active, improving your physical health and overall confidence.
Some rural areas have no phone signal, so you’re forced away from social media and outside contact. There are lots of things to look at and absorb your attention, helping you switch off from the demands of a busy life.
It’s ok to start small. If you rarely go outside to enjoy nature, embarking on a long woodland walk might be a bit overwhelming. Even just a short stroll through your local park can be very beneficial. The absence of noise usually produced by cars and people should help you relax and destress. Nature is also a great place to practice mindfulness. Try listening to the sound of the wind, birdsong or even the rhythm of your footsteps as you walk.
Here are some other simple ideas:
- Grow or pick your own food. Create a growing space in your garden or try planting fresh herbs in a window box.
- Bring nature inside. Treat yourself to fresh flowers or potted plants for your home. Next time you go on a walk, collect natural objects like leaves, feathers, tree bark or seeds.
- Do some of your usual activities outside. Eat breakfast in the garden or try exercising at a nearby park.
- Help the environment. Start a litter-picking walk in your local area or volunteer for a conservation project.
- Connect with animals. Whenever you’re outside, look out for wildlife. You could also visit a city farm, try birdwatching or offer your services as a dog-walker.
- Make time for some fun. Stargazing, beachcombing and geocaching all take place outside.
For more advice read 5 Ways to Reduce Stress.