We all have different reasons for wanting to or not wanting to connect with nature. But studies show that it is very beneficial for our mental health. For example, ecotherapy (a type of treatment which involves doing activities in nature) has shown to help with mild to moderate depression and anxiety.
· Reduce feelings of stress or anger
· Improve confidence and self-esteem
· Help make new connections
In 2015, researchers found that healthy individuals who walked 90 mins in a natural setting had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex. This is the area of the brain that is active during rumination which is the process of continuously thinking about the same thoughts that tend to be sad or dark. “When people are depressed or under high levels of stress, this part of the brain malfunctions, and people experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts”, says Dr. Strauss.
Spending time in nature offers numerous therapeutic benefits. Listening to calming nature sounds can lower the blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
How much time with nature is enough?
The goal is to make interactions with nature a part of your normal lifestyle. However, a great start would be 10-15 minutes three times a week. The type of nature setting doesn’t matter, but try and find places that are pleasing. Also, this doesn’t have to be done alone. A 2014 study found that group nature walks were just as effective as solo walks in terms of lowering depression and stress and improving overall mental outlook.
Ideas to try in nature
· Grow your own herbs/plants
· Eat meals outdoors
· Go on a nature trail
· Watch the stars
· Try exercising outdoors
· Meditate outdoors
· Volunteer for a conservation project
· Hang a bird feeder
· Try birdwatching
· Go fishing
Some of these ideas may not be comfortable for you, but see if you can find some that do or adapt one to suit you.
Remember, it is about progression and not perfection
See you all next week.
This post is not intended to prevent, cure, or treat any disease