Mental Health Benefits of Nature

Mental Health Benefits of Nature. Psychology Fanatic article header image

There is an unwritten law that we instinctively follow. We attend to the business of living by fixating on problems. Healthy planning helps to avoid many tragedies while constructively building robust futures. However, in the feverish pace of living, we neglect the beauties of the present; the small actions not directly associated with success but that profoundly impact our futures. We need to make space in our hectic lives for calmness. We must discover the mental health benefits of nature.

Nature cycles through cataclysmic storms and recovering moments of calmness when the winds stop, and the rains cease. The world takes a breath and recovers. For our mental, spiritual, and physical health, we also need rejuvenating breaks from our frenzied lives and recover with moments of tranquility. If we push too hard for too long, we may suffer burnout or disease.

“From a stroll through a city park to a day spent hiking in the wilderness, exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.” 

~Kristen Weir

Research On the Health Benefits of Nature

Studies support our intuitive knowledge about nature. Yes, trees are good for our souls. Scientific studies report that “exposure to forested areas can improve physiological markers of well-being, including blood pressure, cortisol, and heart rate variability.” Other studies found that “people feel better emotionally, more alive, and more cooperative under the influence of nature” (2020).

Heidi Watcher of Experience Life cited a study to discern whether it was walking or nature contributing to wellness. “Researchers asked 38 volunteers with no prior history of mental illness to take a walk in a park or along a busy street.” Researchers conducted brain scans on the Participants underwent brain scans before and after the walk. Nature walkers showed decreased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex. while no substantive changes were observed in the urban walkers (2016).

Discovering Tranquility in Nature

Tranquility is a blessing of healthy living. Moments of serenity are difficult to enjoy when surrounded by impending calamities. Healthy planning helps reduce the anxieties; but what does a well-organized life offer, if we continually chase the storms without enjoying the fruits of our labors?

Whatever our circumstances, we need planned recovery—moments to escape the demands of living. Nature provides a liberating break. A walk in the park or along the beach coupled with practiced mindfulness releases the strains of a tortured pace. Our bodies absorb the surrounding beauties. Our minds relax without the burdensome weight of anxiety, fear, and anger. We momentarily see the world through the clearness of loving kindness, compassion, and joy.

“There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well­being.”
Lisa Nisbet, PhD

Occasional breaks from doing and planning creates a fertile state of mind that abundantly produces wisdom, security, and courage.

Breaks are not natural. We must schedule time to access this state of being; whether it’s a few quiet moments on the patio, a hike in the woods or along the beach, we experience the powerful blessings of an unstrained mind, recovering from the world while preparing for the future.

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Nisbet, Elizabeth K., Shaw, Daniel W., Lachance, Danielle D. (2020). Connectedness With Nearby Nature and Well-Being. Frontiers in Sustainable Cities.

Wachter, Heidi. (2016). Nature High. Experience Life. Published 7-5-2016. Accessed 4-1-2017.

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