5 Ways Nature is a Benefit To Good Mental Health
Updated: Sep 29, 2022
Our Connected Roots team has long held to the fundamental truth that nature delivers many benefits on the journey towards optimal mental health. Our team encourages and promotes connecting with nature as an essential part of healthy living, and is an important part of our Boulder therapy services.
While our lives have drastically changed over the last century, our brains have stayed the same. Humans still share a deeply rooted connection with nature, and fostering that relationship benefits us in innumerable ways.
We can help you discover ways to connect with nature that feel refreshing, fun, and provide positive mental health benefits.
Read on to discover the many wonderful ways nature delivers these gifts…
Reduces Your Stress
Research shows that any interaction with nature - whether taking a hike, sitting in the sunshine, or basking in natural green spaces - can help to reduce stress.
Getting outside, unplugging for a bit, and allowing yourself to be distracted by pleasant sounds, sights, smells, and feelings - like the wind on your face or thick grass under your feet - allows your mind to reprogram and rest from the constant barrage of technology. Breathe it all in. You won’t regret your time in the sunshine.
Increases Your Focus & Attention
Spending time in nature is a balm for busy brains! Stress reduction and attention restoration are certainly related, so it stands to reason that if getting outdoors helps reduce stress, it can also increase your focus.
Researchers asked students to engage in an attention-draining task involving a keyboard and computer screen. Students who gazed at a flowering green roof for 40 seconds midway through the assignment made significantly fewer mistakes than students who looked onto a concrete rooftop for the same duration. (Lee, K.E, et al., Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2015)
Centering your body and mind helps foster a feeling of calm. Being outside and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature causes humans to slow down, breathe deeply, and focus on their surroundings. These actions begin a domino effect in our bodies, resulting in a more calm and centered frame of mind.
“Stopping to smell the roses” isn’t just an old saying. It’s a tried and true way to naturally pump the brakes on your body’s natural flight-or-fight response to stressors. Taking some time to focus on nature allows your body to reset and chill for a while.
Have you ever felt soothed when watching your computer wallpaper of jellyfish gently swimming in the deep blue of the ocean? There’s a reason spas and massage centers play nature sounds like gentle rain or crashing waves. Our bodies and minds crave the soothing, restoring, and healing benefits nature provides.
It’s likely that you already know what a weekend - or even a night - away at the beach, mountains, or river can do for your peace of mind. Getting away from everyday stress and expectation gives us the opportunity to reconnect and reset our minds.
Fosters Connection & Social Interaction
Sometimes, you need the space and time to be alone - but nature excursions provide a golden opportunity to have fun and engage in social interaction. You don’t need a research study to prove that singing songs by a campfire is way more fun with a group!
Once you’re outside and away from the daily distractions like phones or other electronic devices, it’s much easier to engage in a conversation, share a laugh, and find commonalities with friends or groups. Exposure to nature helps avoid feelings of social isolation, encourages connections, and positively impacts your mental (and overall!) health too.
Suggestions For Getting Outside
If heading out into the wild isn’t your cup of tea, that’s ok! There are many fun and exciting ways to spend time in the great outdoors. Some of our favorites include:
Taking off your shoes and sinking your feet into the grass
Eating lunch outside
Planting flowers on your front step or patio
Exploring a park close to home
Suggestions For “Bringing The Outside In”
While there’s no substitute for the real thing, sometimes it’s impossible to get outside. But don’t worry - here are some creative ways to “bring the outside in.”
Plant an herb garden
Unplug and find a sunny spot inside to read or just sit and breathe
Create a nature-themed playlist to play at home, your office, or on your commute
Sketch or color nature scenes from an adult coloring book
Our Connected Roots team is all about getting outside and connecting with nature! We understand and appreciate the mental health benefits that breathing fresh air, sinking your toes into the grass or sand, or hiking, biking, or kayaking can bring.
Our team is committed to helping you discover how you can improve your mental health through therapy in Boulder, including discovering or helping you create healthy habits that will bring long-term benefits. Contact us to get started on your wellness journey today!