It’s said that a walk in nature walks the soul back home. Undoubtedly, nature is the best healer for us living in the modern world – getting out in nature could help to lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormone levels, for instance. We have been familiar with those benefits it provides for our physical health, but how about its impact on our emotions and mental health?
Nature helps to improve mood
The i2 media research at Goldsmiths University of London made an experiment to understand the link between nature and specific mood states. It involved 1,000 volunteers who accepted a number of psychometric tests and rated their stress and wellbeing levels before and after being exposed to nature.
The findings showed that uplifts in mood states and decreases in stress levels were associated with increased nature exposure. In total, 68 percent of the volunteers reported that they felt an increase in happiness, and 52 percent felt inspired after watching scenes of water environments. Almost six in ten participants admitted the environment helped them forget their worries.
Other positive effects of nature
Vitamin D obtained from sun exposure – A day out in the sunshine can suffice us with vitamin D, a nutrient we may not get enough from food. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen.
Better sleep – When we’re in sunlight, the melatonin in our bodies decreases. This helps us wake up in the morning. In the absence of sunlight, our melatonin levels rise, making us sleepy or lethargic. Getting sunlight at the right time of the day can lead to better sleep at night.
Therapeutic benefits – Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. Interacting with natural spaces offers other therapeutic benefits as well. For instance, calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body's fight-or-flight response.
Time with nature is up to you
If you are planning to get out of a bad mood, it is helpful to have outdoor activities. Anything from 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week, to regular three-day weekends in the woods could be helpful. Your time with nature could be something as simple as a daily walk in a park or a Saturday afternoon on a local trail.
When you are free, instead of reaching for your iPhone or the TV remote at home, visit a local park or nearby forest. Your mind and soul will thank you.