We all know, on some level, how profound and powerful nature is. Whether we use it for sport, work, study or for relaxation, the effects that the outdoors can have on the body, both mentally and physically is sublime. While many of us are located in built up, suburban areas, it is still important to take a minute to realise that there is natural beauty almost everywhere.
On a daily basis, we can encounter sunshine, plants, trees, rain, wind, ocean, rivers and mountains and without even realizing it, these are the fundamental aspects of life that make us truly and genuinely happy. To really increase the effects of nature on our system, it is a great idea to indulge completely within a natural setting, such as getting into the rainforest, going to the beach or trekking to the top of a mountain. Below is a list of ten benefits that nature can have on our wellbeing.
Mood and Self-esteem:
Daily life stressors and responsibilities can reap havoc on our moods and the way we view ourselves. There is always something that has the ability to bring us down and decrease our levels of self-love. Removing yourself from the situation can sometimes not be enough, but getting out into nature, amongst trees, plants and fresh air can really help to increase your mental health. A study conducted by Perspectives in Public Health concluded that participants that engaged in exercise in nature displayed major improvements in their moods and mental health. If you are feeling stagnant and unable to shake the blues, go for a bush walk, a run on the beach or some yoga in the park.
Stress is something that we will all encounter at various points along the timeline that is life. It is essentially unavoidable due to society’s obligations, responsibilities and relationships. Being able to deal with stress in a healthy way is paramount to establishing yourself as a healthy and happy adult. Gardening is making a comeback. Not only can you gain beautiful flowers, wildlife and produce from a flourishing garden, the outside activity has also been linked to a decrease in stress. A study conducted by Van Den Berg and Custers (2011) concluded that after gardening their were reduced levels of salivary cortisol within the brain, as well as an improvement to mood following gardening
Looking after the Elderly:
Getting old is something that will happen to us all. It is something we all hope to do with dignity and grace and should strive for exactly that through any lifestyle change possible. As we get older, we will be confronted with health problems and mental health issues, with quality of life diminishing year by year. Bing amongst nature is said to greatly increase the quality of life for older people. Getting out in the sun, sitting by the beach or strolling through the park has been scientifically proven to increase the mental health of people within the elderly bracket.
Nature as a Healing Process:
Nature is the most natural and instinctual place for the human body to be. When amongst a natural setting the body begins to heal an irritable mood, increase immunity and the endocrine and nervous systems. Being amongst nature has also been known to reduce blood pressure, muscular tension, heart rate and stress hormones. Research conducted with offices and schools has concluded that even a simple indoor plant has the ability to change the mood and wellbeing of those within that room.
Assisting in Creating Connections:
Being amongst nature helps our brain to link ourselves to the outside world. Often, we can get so caught up in or own lives, problems and relationships that we forget that there is a thriving, majestic and mind boggling world out there. Engaging with a natural setting can help us to remember that we are a part of something a lot bigger then just our lives. This is actually a great mental health tool, helping us to feel less alone. Connections through nature can also be seen on a smaller scale, with people living amongst a more natural setting having stronger and more genuine relationships with people within the same neighborhood, a study from the University of Illinois suggests.
Nature Soothes Pain:
If you have recently been injured or hurt in some way, get yourself out into nature to feel stronger and on the road to recovery. This is because the human brain becomes so encapsulated with what they are seeing, hearing and smelling that we become distracted from the pain and discomfort. If you are in pain, set yourself up within a garden setting, an ocean view or simply just a view of trees out your window to significantly reduce your feelings of unease and discomfort.
Decreases Feelings of Depression:
In 2012, there was research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders that claimed that those suffering from depression found a huge increase in positive thinking and brain function following a 50-minute walk amongst nature. This is in comparison to those also suffering from depression, who walked amongst an urban setting, and found no improvement to mental health. Walking amongst a natural setting has been proven through numerous studies to increase mood and mental health.
Nature for Heart Health:
Nature is not just amazing for stress, moods and pain, with experts concluding that nature is great for cardiovascular health. This is due to heart reduction and improvement away from urban areas. There has also been research that has found reductions in adrenaline and blood pressure amongst a natural environment.
Getting out and into nature has never been more important due to our widely busy and stressful lives. Nature will not only benefit your mental health, moods, stress levels and self-esteem, it will also play a big part in your heart health and your ability to age well. Get outside and live happier and healthier.