I have always loved the outdoors. I find that when I am in nature–I feel more grounded, connected, and my stress seems to melt away. Numerous studies point to the fact that spending time in nature is proven to have positive effects on mental health, especially when done in a mindful way. Here are a few interesting facts I have come across regarding mindful practices spent in nature.
Nature Decreases Stress
We all know that exercise helps to decrease stress but there are differences in the effects of physical activity and stress reduction when exercise is performed indoors vs. outdoors. One study I looked at had participants walk similar distances in a forest and an urban center while they tracked their mood, anxiety levels, and heart rates. The participants who spent time in nature reported lower heartrates, better moods and less anxiety–proving the beneficial effects of nature alone on our stress levels (Suttie, 2016).
Nature Relieves Attention Fatigue and Increases Creativity
In todays modern world we are glued to our screens in an increasing manner. This attachment to technology leaves us feeling burnt out, overwhelmed and mentally fatigued. I can definitely relate to this nearing the end of two full-time terms of online schooling. There have been entire days when I do not leave my house and I have been staring at my computer screen for 12+ hours. It can feel like one more task to prioritize my mental health and get outside when there is so much school work to complete, but whenever I do venture outdoors–I immediately feel energized, mentally stronger, and ready to tackle the rest of my work.
One study I looked at found that spending time in nature can improve cognitive functioning, increase attention, and boost creativity (2016). Going for a walk in nature, and putting away our gadgets, not only decreases the stress of the day but makes you more productive when you get back into it.
Nature Makes You Feel More Alive
Human beings were not meant to be indoors, staring at screens–disconnected from the world around them. Spending time outside allows you to connect with yourself and the world around you. Life can be overwhelming (especially during a pandemic) and going outside gives you a chance to refresh and connect with the world around you. Nature provides an opportunity to step out of the demands of life and tap into the beauty of the world around you–ultimately making you feel more alive.
Nature decreases stress and fatigue, increases cognitive functioning, attention, and the ability to connect with yourself and your environment. And it’s free! I feel so fortunate to live here in Victoria, where nature is easily accessible and can be enjoyed at all times of the year.
Getting outside and enjoying the benefits of nature is my favorite mindful practice! Here is a little video I edited of my kids and I soaking it all in.
Suttie, J (2016). How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative. Retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_nature_makes_you_kinder_happier_more_creative