How Can Nature Positively Impact Your Mental Health?
It is a rather unfortunate fact that many of us have become so wrapped up within our day-to-day responsibilities to the point that the natural environment is hardly experienced.
This is actually quite ironic, as previous generations were inextricably linked to nature. While we all enjoy modern conveniences and amenities, this very same progress may have come at a cost in terms of our mental health. Were you aware that nature can have a very positive impact upon your emotional outlook? Let’s take a look at some surprising findings in order to better appreciate why incorporating the natural world into your daily schedule is an excellent idea.
Embracing a Mentally Healthy Outlook
Due to the innate relationship between humans and nature, it makes a great deal of sense that going “back to the basics” can help us establish a mental equilibrium. Numerous studies have highlighted this observation. Simple activities such as hiking or bicycling can positively impact a stress-inducing hormone known as cortisol. Outdoor activities result in lower levels of this chemical; helping to reduce feelings of nervousness, anxiety and even depression.
Another point to mention is that regular trips into a natural environment cause our bodies to release specific “feel-good” chemicals such as serotonin and epinephrine. These are clearly linked to a more positive mental outlook. This is one of the reasons why countless mental health professionals have promoted outdoor activities for decades.
It should also be mentioned that excursions into nature seem to have a beneficial impact upon our short-term memories. While the process is not completely understood, it is thought that the calming effect nature has upon our mindset can help to remove much of the “clutter” associated with modern life; enhancing our basic cognitive functions while reducing invasive thoughts that could cloud our perspective.
Physical Effects Leading to More Robust Mental Health
Science has found that the mind and body are connected on many levels. This is why the physical benefits of spending time outdoors will undoubtedly impact our mental outlook.
Perhaps one of the most important takeaway points is that we will be exposed to fresh air while immersed in nature. This is even more relevant if we perform physical activities such as walking, climbing or hiking. Increased levels of oxygen within the blood will reach the brain; providing us with a greater sense of clarity than would be possible within a sedentary urban environment.
Furthermore, regular physical exercise within a natural atmosphere will ultimately contribute to a more positive emotional outlook. This is crucial in terms of overall happiness as well as our ability to develop a more productive perspective on life itself.
The good news is that you do not have to spend days camping in the wild or participate in a 100-mile run to leverage the advantages outlined above. Even a short hiatus into the natural world will provide amazing results. So, try to make it a point to embrace nature in order to enhance your mental health.
If you have enjoyed this article, you might also like the article I wrote on the 8 actions that will reverse the cycle of depression – Part 1