Spending Time in Nature (Mental Health Series Part Four)
Welcome back to this series on mental health. I am so glad you have joined me. As I mentioned in the first part of this series, I will now discuss the importance of being in nature.
Aside from therapy, getting back to nature is my favourite way to lift my mood and improve my state of mind. However, this can be hard for me sometimes because I live in Saskatchewan, and like many with SCIs, I cannot handle the cold. Luckily, I find that even watching nature documentaries, listening to nature sounds, or using essential oils made from cedars and plants help a bit when it is winter and too cold for me to be outside.
Taking a moment to sit in my backyard, close my eyes, and listen to the sounds is incredibly helpful. Going for a stroll around the neighbourhood or along walking trails, spending time in a park, feeling the breeze on my face, and soaking up the sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course!) all calm my mind and make me so thankful to be alive. Doing these things allow you the chance to reconnect with yourself and reconnect with the beautiful, natural world.
Research suggests that spending time in the natural world reduces stress and promotes physical and mental healing. For example, a study done at the University of Exeter discovered that participants who spent two hours a week in natural environments were significantly more likely to have good physical and psychological well-being. Other research articles have found that spending time in nature can:
- Lower blood pressure
- Decrease the level of stress hormones in the body
- Decrease nervous system arousal
- Improve immune system function
- Improve self-esteem
- Decrease anxiety
- Enhance one’s mood
- Decrease aggression
- Improve focus
- Make one feel less isolated
- Promote a sense of calm
We spend most of our lives inside our homes, workplaces, or public businesses surrounded by artificial lighting and temperature control. Living this way disconnects us from the natural world. Additionally, many of us live in cities surrounded by infrastructure and minimal greenery and wildlife. However, I will say that if you get out and reconnect with the natural world, it is highly unlikely that you will regret it.