In today’s modern world, the act of spending time in nature is becoming less and less common. While many people still enjoy visiting parks, going on hikes, and being around flora and fauna, few can deny that the human race has made more movement towards indoor life in recent times.
But what if this was a bad thing? What if being less outdoorsy is robbing us of benefits that could help our physical and mental health? Can surrounding yourself with nature have a positive impact on your wellbeing? As it turns out, yes, it can! Here are twelve ways it does so.
1. Nature Improves Cognitive Function
A study has discovered that thanks to the large amounts of stimuli provided by your nearest source of nature, taking in some fresh air and outdoor views can have the following positive benefits:
- Give your “bigger picture” skills a chance to recover
- Allows you to practice and focus on exploring details from a bottom-up perspective
- Engage your mind in a gentler and more general fashion so that you can relax
As a result, your cognitive skills get engaged differently. This allows your brain and mind to rest and reset – so when you have to return to a task, you find yourself refreshed and ready to tackle a new challenge once more!
2. It Increases Vitality
Positive thinking has a whole host of benefits for your mental and physiological health, but it can be challenging to pull off. Plants, however, can be in your ally in that regard!
As it turns out, research has discovered that being in a nature-filled environment brings a whole host of benefits for your mental health to the table! For example, it might:
- Help those struggling with the impulsivity and agitation associated with learning disorders.
- Boost your mental and physical energy levels
- Invoke more positive emotions from within you, making you feel better
Fun fact, you don’t need to do a lot to reap the benefits from this either. All you have to do is spend 20 minutes in the park, and that’s all it takes to feel better!
3. It Reduces Stress
Modern, urban life can be incredibly stressful – and for a good reason. When do you ever have a chance to break free of the seemingly eternal rat race? How can you possibly recover from that?
Thankfully, there is a solution: nature! In a study with 120 participants, researchers discovered that – compared to those looking at an urban environment – participants exposed to the visuals of a natural landscape:
- Were more likely to have lower stress scores
- Had healthier pulse counts and heart rates
- Underwent a faster recovery period from stressful events
- Had an easier time being positive
- Maintained better general mental health
4. Nature Gives You Sunlight
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that the body cannot naturally synthesize. And it’s not something you can get from your food in necessary amounts, either. Instead, the best way to get this crucial vitamin is through sunlight!
The reason for this is because your skin only creates vitamin D when it is exposed to direct sunlight – something that you just so happen to get plenty of in nature! This is pretty important because Vitamin D:
- It is necessary for the maintenance of good mental health
- May used to help the body absorb calcium, preventing osteoporosis
- It has a positive correlation with reduced risk of heart attacks
- May help prevent the development of cancer
Thankfully, you don’t need too much sunlight. The exact amount you need will depend on where you are on the globe, the time of the day, and the amount of melanin – but for the most part, you’ll only need between 10 to 20 minutes of sunlight a day!
5. It Improves Creativity
There’s a reason the great artists of old often ended up retreating to the countryside to create their masterpieces. Not only is nature full of inspiration and references to pull from for creating your next artistic piece, that disconnect from society can also give you a boost to your creativity!
It may just sound like an unsubstantiated observation, but there’s actual science behind it. Thanks to the University of Kansas, we now have research proving that nature helps:
- Improve our creativity
- Improve our problem-solving skills
- Gives us a chance to refuel the energy we need for an attention-demanding world
- Allows us to rest and relax
6. It Improves Attention
Have you ever asked, what is it about nature that seems to be so restoring to our mental and physical health? Surprise! There’s an answer for that.
Research has proven that yes – nature does re-energize us and help us slough off that exhaustion we accumulate from daily life. The biggest reason for this is because:
- Urban life is full of details that are dramatic in its demand for our attention and focus.
- Nature is much gentler in its demand for our effort, lowering the required energy levels associated with paying attention.
- The attention nature demands are often of a different type that we don’t usually use.
- Humanity is a spatial species that naturally gravitates towards a suitably spatial environment – something that nature has in spades.
Thanks to these factors, nature ends up having a therapeutic effect on our minds and souls. We often find ourselves returning to our everyday lives feeling refreshed and ready to tackle life once more!
Your BMI isn’t the end-all-be-all for health. Because it doesn’t consider how muscle is heavier than fat, athletes and body-builders are often considered obese. Obviously, that is totally incorrect!
That said, you may still be watching your or your child’s BMI for personal health-related reasons – and managing it can be quite difficult. Thankfully, nature is here to help! But how?
- Studies have shown children who live closer to nature are more likely to be physically active.
- Exercising outdoors is more pleasantly stimulating, making longer exercise sessions attractive and motivating.
- You’re more likely to work out smaller muscle groups that would not be tested in an otherwise controlled, sterile environment.
8. It Helps Depression Management
No matter how much we wish it were the case, clinical depression isn’t something that someone can resolve with positive thinking alone. That said, every little thing counts when you’re struggling and trying to keep that monster in check.
So why not consider nature as another tool to add to your armory to fight back? A study found that being in nature and interacting with the natural environment around you may offer these benefits:
- A significant, positive boost to your mood
- More energy and motivation
- Encourages you to recover faster from a depressive episode
9. It Promotes Heart Health
Despite it being incredibly vital to our continued existence, we don’t really have a lot of ways to care for it.
Coronary heart disease is one of the biggest, silent killers of the globe – which means that for every one person that succumbs to the disease, plenty more are struggling with managing its aftereffects. Even an operation isn’t a final solution, with many struggling to recover after diagnosis and surgery.
Nature, then, truly is one of the best healers you can go to. Horticultural therapy has been noted to be a significant source of reduction in mental and physical distress! This makes it a precious tool to assist with the rehabilitation of patients embarking on their long road to recovery.
You don’t have to wait until post-op to start reaping these benefits, thankfully. Feel free to preemptively start digging in some dirt for the sake of your health!
10. Mother Nature Can Spiritually Enhance You
Ever looked at some wonder of nature up close and be filled with awe at the spectacle? Then you may understand this experience more than you think.
Researchers have noted that exposure to nature increases our appreciation of the world around us – which is more significant than you might think. Think just about how much more connected to your senses and mind you become after really touching and seeing the physical world around you!