Our lives are busy these days, and in turn, so are our minds, but not always in a good way. Stress over work, family, and health can lead to negative effects on our mental wellbeing. These effects include bouts of anxiety, sadness, and even helplessness. Any of these can easily affect our daily routines and our overall lives.
Although we may not be able to control everything that weighs on us, we can take time out to care for our own mental wellbeing. One way to do this is simply to step outside. Nature has been shown to aid our mental wellbeing in more ways than one.
Here are three reasons why stepping out into nature is important for our overall mental wellbeing.
Nature Can Calm
In nature, you are surrounded by beauty and the serenity it invokes. This creates a sense of peace and calm. Spending even just a short time in nature can reduce levels of stress and anxiety, create positive thoughts and feelings, and heal mental fatigue.
You’ll begin to feel those negative feelings and emotions melt away, and a sense of calm move in. This is not just purely a mental process, however. Our physical bodies contribute by lowering blood pressure and heart rate, and releasing muscle tension.
Nature Can Restore
Nature can also restore your mental wellbeing, returning you to a more functional role, including your ability to pay closer attention to the things around you. Nature has also been shown to help improve memory as well.
Our overactive minds take a hiatus, and we feel refreshed, ready to take on new tasks. We feel less overwhelmed and can focus once again on the things that are important to us.
If you have depression, consider spending even more time outdoors. Recent research finds that walking in nature for 90 minutes can help alleviate symptoms of depression. These nature walks create changes in the neural activity of certain areas of the brain that are associated with depression.
Mood disorders, such as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), have also been found to benefit from spending time in nature.
Nature can Transform
Through nature, transformation of your thoughts and thought processes can occur. It can also help you gain a sense of resilience and a certain degree of mental toughness. Whatever is affecting you mentally is met with more strength and determination going forward.
The positive effects of spending time in nature are not lost on psychologists and counselors these days. A new field of study is beginning to emerge, calling itself ecotherapy. Ecotherapy is basically nature therapy, or contact with nature, wherein nature-based exercises are used to affect both mental and physical health.
Here are a few suggestions to add a little nature therapy to your day.
- take a walk in nature
- scoop up a handful of moist soil and hold it for 20 minutes
- embrace a tree
- start or maintain a garden
- meditate outdoors
In essence, nature quietens our minds, restores a sense of mental balance, and transforms our thought processes. All we have to do is take a step outside.