Our relationship with nature is so important to maintaining a healthy emotional, psychological and physical self. How much we notice and appreciate our natural surroundings has a profound impact on reducing stress and increasing pleasant feelings. In this day and age this can be difficult as a 2016 Nielsen Total Audience Report reports that most Americans stare at a screen for 10 hours a day. With an uptick in reliance on technology, many of us are spending less time outdoors and not reaping the benefits of how nature improves mental health.

In addition to an increase in screen time, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban settings. With urbanization and disconnection from nature growing, so have mental health disorders such as depression. It has been found that 20% of city dwellers have a higher risk of anxiety disorders and 40% have a higher risk of mood disorders as compared to people in rural areas.

The definition of nature casts a wide net. It can mean green spaces like parks or forests and blue spaces like rivers and beaches. It also can include trees in an urban setting, a garden or even indoor plants. Regardless of what form nature comes in for you, exposure to it has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, and reduced risk of psychiatric disorders.

Reduce stress levels

A growing body of research has shown how interacting with nature can lead to a range of positive stress-related benefits. The calming effects of nature helps to lower our blood pressure and reduce the production of stress hormones.

Improve your mood

A study has shown that at least 2 hours a week spent in nature help calm down depression. Being outdoors encourages healthy physical activity, which is a major factor in battling depression. not only does it increase your energy levels but it also makes you happier by producing endorphins.

Better cognition

Spending time in nature can help in the brain’s cognitive function. Cognitive functions relate to intellectual activity, thinking, reasoning, and a person’s ability to remember. One study concluded that nature improves mental health and cognitive function by:

    • Boosting concentration levels
    • Increasing the ability to pay attention
    • Lowering stress levels
    • Increasing the desire to spend more time in nature

There are so many reasons why a hike in the woods or a day at the beach is beneficial for both our mental health and physical health. Make it a habit to expose yourself to nature for at least two hours a week. This can be done alone or with friends or loved ones. Whether you want to practice self-care or avoid mental health disorders, time in nature can help.

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