There is a reason why relaxing music in massage parlors uses sounds from nature like ocean waves, birds chirping, and rainfall. Or why some people use wallpapers of nature in the workplace.
It’s because Mother Nature has healing powers that we can’t get elsewhere.
There are scents of air freshener like ocean breeze or flower petals. What we see, hear, and experience with nature changes our mood and reduces stress. But what exactly are the benefits of nature for our mental health?
What Are the Benefits of Nature for Mental Health?
Nature heals, soothes, and restores our mental well-being. A study conducted by Mathew White concluded that there are plentiful cognitive benefits and happiness when exposed to nature. Some may not know this, but nature therapy can calm depression, improve sleep, and encourage social interaction—all of which are vital ingredients for better mental well-being.
1. Better Cognition
Cognitive functions relate to intellectual activity, thinking, reasoning, and a person’s ability to remember. An interesting experiment shows that time in nature, even just for a few minutes, helps in the brain’s cognitive function, regardless of the person’s age.
A group of students was given a challenging task. Half had a rooftop view, while the other half had a view of grasses and flowers over the window. The students with the garden view had fewer mistakes than those with a rooftop view.
The study concluded that spending time in nature can improve cognitive function by:
- Boosting concentration levels
- Increasing the ability to pay attention
- Lowering stress levels
- Making a tired brain happy
- Increasing the desire to spend more time in nature
2. Calming Effects on the Mind
It has been a long-standing fact that nature’s beauty and serenity have a calming effect on the mind and create a sense of peace. This is something you won’t find in urban spaces and areas with heavy traffic. If you’re having a stressful week, staying at home for the weekend and binge-watching a series on Netflix will not relax you the way a nature trip can.
Spending time in nature effectively reduces stress, avoids mental fatigue, recharges your mind, and helps you to be in a happy mood. Try spending the weekend on the beach and see the difference it can make in calming your mind. You’ll feel more relaxed and energized for work as you start your Monday. You feel refueled and are ready to face another stressful work for the week.
3. Improved Overall Well-Being
Spending time in nature has healing effects on our mental health and physical well-being. Going for a hike and seeing picturesque views does not only reduces stress and anger but also helps with our physical well-being. An uphill hike is a form of exercise that helps regulate blood pressure, muscle tension, and heart rate. It also reduces stress hormones, boosts the immune system, and produces happy hormones.
Nature therapy also does wonders for healing both mental and physical sickness. Don’t you ever wonder that people who live in mountains or forests have longer life spans than those in the city? Aside from healthy eating, people who live close to nature or green spaces have better mental health outcomes and fewer diseases.
4. Natural Anti-Depressant
A study has shown that at least 2 hours a week spent in nature helps calm down depression. People on the verge of depression use nature therapy so their symptoms do not worsen.
We get to practice mindfulness and gratitude just by being in nature. The peace and quiet of the environment around us help clear our minds of unnecessary worries and anxiety, as well as reduce 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; it also makes you feel happier.
Endorphins are the happy hormones produced by the body during any physical activity. Just imagine how the combination of the mood-boosting impact of nature therapy and exercise can make you feel. With nature therapy, exercise, and a healthy diet, you can say goodbye to obesity, diabetes, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and depression.
5. Improved Social Interactions
Here’s another benefit of nature therapy: better social interaction. Sure, you can go to the beach or hike the mountains alone. But won’t it be more fun to bring someone along on your nature trips? Inviting a friend who has navigation skills and wilderness survival training can even be convenient if you don’t have either.
Going on nature trips allows you to have fun and socially interact with others. You won’t believe how many new friendships are formed on campsites and beaches. Exposure to nature can help you avoid social isolation and loneliness, thus significantly impacting your mental health.
There’s a big reason why a stroll in the public park, a hike in the wilderness, or a day at the beach is beneficial for our mental and physical health. Make it a habit to expose yourself to nature for at least two hours a week. You can do this alone or with your family or friends. Whether you want to practice self-care, avoid mood disorders, get through the week, or bond with family or friends, nature therapy can help.
It would be best to go for professional counseling or therapy if you’re going through mental and emotional issues and think that a nature trip may not be enough to help you deal with your problems sufficiently. Kentucky Counseling Center can help you get through these challenging times. Thanks to Kentucky Counseling Center’s telehealth counseling service, you can have remote therapy anytime and anywhere, even when you’re out on a nature trip.
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