10 Benefits Nature Can Have on Your Mental Health

Happy Earth Day! We know that being out in nature can have great effects to our body, but what does nature really do for our mental health?

Here are 10 ways mental health can bring benefits to you by spending time in nature:

  1. Less Stress.
    Research shows that any interaction with nature can reduce stress levels significantly. This can be done by spending time outdoors, looking at or even hearing sounds of nature. People who live near green spaces tend to have less mental distress.

  2. Less Mental Health Illnesses.
    Living near or interacting with nature has proven to decrease the instances of mental health disease and other physical illnesses. Researchers have discovered among people who live within a half a mile of green space to have a lower instance of depression, anxiety, and migraines. People who lack time spent in the natural world and often favor time being spent in front of screens, also known as “nature deprivation,” are associated with depression, loss of empathy, lack of altruism, feeling of isolation, and have a higher risk of death.

  3. Recovery from Mental Health Illnesses.
    Nature has also been used as a restorative measure for those who currently suffer from mental health illnesses. Research from Harvard University analyzed 100,000 female nurses in the United States and found that those living in the greenest areas had 12% lower mortality rate than those in the least green areas. A main factor in the reduced mortality rate was improved mental health and lower rates of depression.

  4. Enhance Short-Term Memory
    Spending time in nature enhances the function of your short-term memory, even up to 20%! So, if you experience foggy memory, it would be a good idea to go take a small walk in nature to clear that brain fog.

  5. Increase Focus and Attention.
    Studies show that those who are exposed to nature, even if it’s viewing a tree from their window, perform better in school and at work. The natural setting calms individuals and sharpens their performance. A study found that walking through nature instead of walking in an urban setting reduces anger, reduces blood pressure, and increases positive attitude.

  6. Increases Relaxation.
    Those who walk through nature are noticeably more relaxed than those who dwell in the city. Studies revealed that there is a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, blood pressure, and even in one’s heart rate. Our senses are adapted to interpret scenes of plants and streams, not traffic and buildings.

  7. Better Moods.
    Not only does nature calm and relax us, but it also improves our mood. Simply by viewing images of nature can elevate one’s mood. In 2011, a study analyzed the effects of participants in an outdoor vs indoor exercise environment. The results revealed participants had greater feelings of revitalization, positive engagement, and increased energy as well as decreased tension, confusion, anger, and depression. There is a greater sense of satisfaction and enjoyment when we do outdoor activities.

  8. Increases Resilience.
    Nature can increase resilience during life crisis. People who are more resilient are more likely to believe that they can recover and often do recover from stressful situations. Nature can act as a remedy and a resource to people in times of crisis. Those individuals who spend more time in nature are known to have improved state of health and are better prepared to face their stressful situations.

  9. Increases Self-Esteem.
    Those who are exposed to natural environments have a higher respect for their own bodies and have the willingness to reject unrealistic ideals by the media. Professor Viren Swami states, “Spending time in a natural environment may help us develop a sense of ownership over our physical selves, gives us a greater respect for our bodies, and a better understanding of what our bodies can do rather than what our bodies look like.”

  10. Increases Connection and Social Interaction.
    A healthy social life is critical to mental wellness. Spending time in nature connects people to each other and to their world. It allows those in the community to have stronger bonds with their neighbors, encourages people to help one another, and enforces people to feel like they belong versus. Communities with more green space has also been proven to reduce the risk of crime and lower the levels of violence and aggression in the home.

So, go outside and explore nature this Earth Day and every day! It will help contribute to your physical health, mental health, and wellbeing.

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