I’ve been reading more and more about how the simple act of being out in nature can not only boost our mood but can also provide other mental health benefits. This title from a Stanford study article caught my eye:
“Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature”
According to that study, “A Stanford-led study finds quantifiable evidence that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression.” The article also mentioned another study that found, “time in nature was found to have a positive effect on mood and aspects of cognitive function, including working memory, as well as a dampening effect on anxiety.”
The New York State Department of environmental conservation states that “research is showing that visiting a forest has real, quantifiable health benefits, both mental and physical. Even five minutes around trees or in green spaces may improve health.” The following are the potential health benefits they cited.
Health Benefits From Spending Time Around Trees or Green Spaces:
- Boosts immune system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces stress
- Improves mood
- Increases ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerates recovery from surgery or illness
- Increases energy level
- Improves sleep
My personal experience is that nature does promote a more relaxed mood. After even a short walk along a quiet, tree-lined road, my mind is quieted and mood is lifted.
I often say that living in the north woods is a very different way of life compared to my former city life. I’m now surrounded by woods and lakes. Although I do miss parts of city living, the truth is that I now live a more relaxed and slower way of life. It’s not for everyone, but I feel my experience supports the theories that spending time in nature has emotional benefits – and I do have low blood pressure!
No forest nearby? Don’t fret, the research cited above states that even “green space” can improve health. So just get a little creative so you, too, can reap the benefits of nature.
Creative Ways to Spend Time in Nature:
- Take full advantage of any urban green space offered in your community.
- Read a book on your porch, yard or local park.
- Garden – even if your garden is made up of potted plants in a small outside space or in your indoor window area. A community garden is also a nice option.
- Find a good view to take time to watch a sunrise or sunset. (I love to snap photos of those beauties!)
- Take an evening bike ride to a school or other local destination that has green space. Fly a kite or throw a ball (or frizbee) with a friend.
- If you’re lucky enough to have a nearby beach, take a stroll with your toes in the sand.
- Have a picnic at your favorite local park or public space.
- My favorite … go for a walk. Nothing like a little movement and fresh air to revive the soul!
- Watch my video of my recent walk in our neighborhood:
Nature Heals! For What It’s Worth…
If you find yourself feeling down or stressed, give nature a chance to nurture you. If your child or friend had a challenging day, take them to your favorite local green space and just hang out.
Do you find spending time out in nature uplifting?
Thoughts? Please leave a comment. I’m interested to know if nature works as a “prescription” to boost your mood.