Nature and Mental Health
People often say that spending time in nature is beneficial to mental health, but what exactly does this mean? The outdoors is an incredible resource that research has found to increase our well-being in more ways than one.
At its core, researchers have discovered that exposing oneself to green and blue spaces can lower overall stress levels and increase mood. It can decrease loneliness, both through increasing sense of belonging and physically being with and spending time with other people. Learning skills in the outdoors can also help build confidence that can transfer into other aspects of life.
Those who are academically motivated may enjoy the fact that exposure to nature has been linked to increased cognitive performance, including increases in attentional ability, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. This means that taking time away from schoolwork can actually help you in school and daily life!
There are so many potential benefits – time spent in nature has even been found to increase empathy and generosity, increasing the balance in our lives.
If you truly cannot spend time in green spaces, learning about and building a connection to the natural world can be a place to start. Building this feeling of connection has been linked to very similar benefits to actually spending time outside, and can be equally as important. So if you like to research, do research! If you want to spend time by a tree, do that! It can all help your brain feel and function better.
Here is more information on this topic:
Nurtured by Nature: American Psychological Association
The great outdoors? Exploring the mental health benefits of natural environments (Frontiers in Psychology)