So why is nature so good?
In short, because the environment we are in influences what we see, hear, taste, smell and touch. And that, in turn, influences how we feel.
Countless research reveals the positive affect nature has on our wellbeing. For some of the best science around, check out these international reviews and the fantastic local examples, compiled by the Mental Health Foundation.
Or if you’re short on time, the general benefits are beautifully summed up in The University of Minnesota’s article: “How Nature Impacts Our Wellbeing”.
In a nutshell…
- Environments can increase or reduce stress and impact our bodies.
- What we see, hear and experience can change our mood.
- Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing.
- Being in nature reduces blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.
What’s extra amazing is that we don’t even have to be in nature to experience the benefits. Studies show that having pot plants in a workplace or even just being able to see a beautiful image or view reduces stress. Pretty cool eh?
In fact connecting with nature is found to be so beneficial that mental health experts around the world have developed a range of nature-based techniques known as ecotherapy.
For example, the University of Essex took a group of people living with depression for a walk through a country park, and 90% reported feeling higher self-esteem afterwards. Nearly three quarters said they felt less depressed.
Stanford University also concluded that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression. Specifically, the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.