The Connection Between Nature & Your Mental Health

Feeling stressed? Research shows a link between nature and your mental health.
The Connection Between Nature & Your Mental Health
More evidence suggests that nature does something essential for our mental health. Image/Pixabay

When trying to make positive changes to your health, going outside and enjoying the outdoors is something that has a tendency to get overlooked in favor of other strategies. However, getting out and spending some time in nature can be something you’re missing out on, and this article will share why you should consider the great outdoors if you’re looking to improve your mood and can help treat or prevent mental health disorders.

Why Going Outside Is Important

In the modern-day and age, it’s very common to spend a lot of time indoors – at home, you’re in your zone that contains all of your belongings and sources of comfort and entertainment, and then most likely, you go to work or school and are inside for hours on end there too.

Afterward, you might feel mentally exhausted, and naturally, you’re going to try to return to your comfort zone to try to wind down and repeat the process for most days of the week.

Although being indoors can give you a sense of safety and security and shelter is one of human’s basic needs, being cooped up inside can also be problematic and it has the potential to create mental health concerns or make them worse.

To help alleviate symptoms of common mental health issues like anxiety or depression, ecotherapy, or therapy through nature, can be incredibly helpful if you find yourself being stuck inside most of the time. Within ecotherapy, there are many different individual techniques, like adventure therapy or animal assisted therapy, which you can learn more about here:

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/do-therapy-dogs-really-work/

As you continue to read you’ll learn more about a couple of the main ways you can use nature to find relief from stress and to heal and improve.

Sunlight & Serotonin

Getting some sun is good for you if you do it safely and in moderation; after all, a massive portion of living organisms depend on sunlight to thrive, and this includes humans.

The sun can provide numerous benefits, like helping your body produce vitamin D and strengthening your immune system, but it can also influence your serotonin levels too.

This is why people who live in areas with less sunlight are more prone to seasonal affective disorder, commonly known as seasonal depression, and light therapy with a device that can imitate natural light can relieve some of the symptoms of depression.

Therefore, if you go outside and enjoy true natural sunlight, you can also take advantage of the same benefits and potentially ward off depression.

Green Spaces & Relaxation

Nature that is full of green trees and other vegetation, such as parks and gardens, can produce a calming effect on your mind due to the serenity of these types of environments. For a similar reason, this is why offices often include indoor plants, images of nature, or have windows that provide a view of green spaces because it can improve concentration and productivity.

There are many ways to appreciate green spaces, and some examples can include:

  • Exercising
  • Walking a dog
  • Creating art
  • Social interaction

These places tend to be quiet and it gives a lot of opportunity to find ways to de-stress in whatever way you like, and luckily, most urban or suburban areas have them, making it easy to find a suitable green space.

Even if you just want to take a stroll and practice mindfulness, going out and finding a place that is lush with green nature can be just what you need to clear your mind and be free of distraction.

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Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has shown you how nature can be a positive force on your mental health and has given you some ideas on how you can start spending more time outdoors. Even just 20 minutes each day can make a big difference as long as you’re consistent, and over time, you’ll most likely notice you feel more at peace, mentally.

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Lauren Ann, MS

Lauren has dual graduate degrees in Clinical Psychotherapy and Nutrition, espousing an integrative approach to optimizing overall healt

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