I love the great outdoors, from running through trails to training for marathons to swimming with dolphins. It’s a place of peace in an otherwise chaotic world.
However, the outdoors doesn’t just bring me peace due to my happy memories spent in nature. Getting outside has also been a great way to deal with stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Recent research has shown that contact with nature can increase happiness, positively affect a person’s sense of purpose, and decrease mental distress.
Why does nature have such a powerful impact on our mental health? We’re highlighting four ways that getting outside more can improve your mental health.
Gets You Active
Get outside. Being active can go a long way regarding your mental health, and it gets you out of your inner dialogue and focuses your mind on what’s physical. Having more green spaces in a city or neighborhood has shown an increase in residents being active outside and creating healthier communities. Outdoor activities can include:
Fights Depression and Anxiety
It’s not just being active that can help your mental health. The rise of practices such as ecotherapy, earthing, and grounding supports the benefits of nature when fighting depression and anxiety. Taking a few minutes each day to walk in a green space has been shown to improve your overall mood and lower your stress levels.
Why does nature affect our mood? We are constantly bombarded with sounds, smells, and people in these settings. Nature allows us room to breathe, literally. A quiet moment in nature will enable us to center ourselves and separate from the oversaturated world.
The most crucial benefit of being outside is your connection with nature. We forget that we are creatures of nature, like everything else on this planet. Being reconnected with nature reminds us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Walking amongst giants growing in forests hundreds of years longer than you’ve been alive, you gain a different perspective on yourself. You feel in tune with the world around you.
It also reminds us what it means to be a part of this world. We’re not meant to be perfect, yet we’re made precisely as nature intended. We are not alone when we’re surrounded by birds, squirrels, and any other number of animals, but we’re also alone within ourselves.
If you don’t feel connected with nature, take a few minutes out of your day to walk around your neighborhood or head to a local. Close your eyes and listen to the twittering of birds. Find a quiet spot where you can complete yourself and reconnect with who is in the world's space.
Nature is a gift for our mental health. It grounds us (pun intended) to who we are as creatures of the Earth and allows our minds to rest in a moment of peace. Find a way to get outside, take a deep breath, and let nature help heal your mind.
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