Everyone always talks about the importance of exploring the great outdoors and getting outside as much as possible. It is well-known that being in nature has many positive impacts for humans and allows us to feel happier, refreshed, and less stressed, but how exactly does nature help with mental health? Here are some of the many ways mental health is impacted by nature.
Improves Memory- Nature helps improve your memory, especially your short-term memory while walks in other places don’t. A study conducted by the researchers in the University of Michigan showed that people who take walks in nature did better on memory tests than those who did not. This is because nature is filled with intriguing stimuli that grabs your attention to one thing at a time and in a less demanding manner than the attention needed in the city, where your attention must be divided in multiple ways to ensure you can do something simple such as crossing a street without being hit by a car. Therefore, your increased attention to one thing in nature allows you to improve your memory by being able to focus on accomplishing and remembering one thing at a time instead of having an undivided attention when trying to memorize something.
Lessens Symptoms of Depression- Nature can help you feel energized and restore motivation, which can come very handy if you have depression or are simply feeling sad. Walking in nature also contributes to a positive boost in your mood, which helps those with depression feel more uplifted. Furthermore, being in nature eliminates mental fatigue which is common amongst people with depression, creating a mental boost.
Lessens Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety- Being in nature lowers your stress hormones such as cortisol, making you less feel less stressed. In addition, it also lowers heart rates, blood pressure, and muscle tension, which all increase when you are feeling anxious.
Builds Attention and Focus- Nature helps lessen the symptoms and effects of common attention disorders because of nature’s ability to help with concentration and attention spans the same way it helps with your memory. Studies showed that children with Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD) have better concentration after walking in parks and nature, even if the walk was just for 20 minutes.
Nature positively affects mental health in multiple ways. So if the weather permits, the next time you are feeling down, stressed, or bored, instead of reaching for your phone or video game console, why not set 20 minutes aside and go for a walk or do an activity outdoors instead? As long as you are dressed appropriately, even with the newly falling snow, there are still plenty of winter entertainments you can enjoy outdoors regardless of the cold!
Andrea Faber Taylor, F. (2009, March 01). Children With Attention Deficits Concentrate Better After Walk in the Park – Andrea Faber Taylor, Frances E. Kuo, 2009. Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1087054708323000
Chowdhury, M. R. (2020, May 06). The Positive Effects Of Nature On Your Mental Well-Being. Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://positivepsychology.com/positive-effects-of-nature/
Loria, K. (2018, April 22). Being outside can improve memory, fight depression, and lower blood pressure – here are 12 science-backed reasons to spend more time outdoors. Retrieved July 22, 2020, from https://www.businessinsider.com/why-spending-more-time-outside-is-healthy-2017-7
Marc G. Berman, J. (2008, December 01). The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature – Marc G. Berman, John Jonides, Stephen Kaplan, 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02225.x
Natural Ways to Calm Your Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/ss/slideshow-natural-manage-anxiety
Note: The Free Your Mind Mental Health Society is an independent youth-led organization. The contents of this blog are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In the event of a medical emergency, please call your doctor or 911 or other local emergency numbers immediately.