Nature is a wonderful thing. We might be biased, but we believe getting out more is the secret to a happier mind. Whether it’s going for a walk in the park, a weekend cycle or simply unwinding in the garden, spending time outside can do wonders for our wellbeing. But how exactly does nature benefit our mental health?
What is Mental Health?
Before we can understand how nature can help our mental health, we first need to understand what mental health is. Simply, everyone has mental health, just like we have physical health, and is the state of mind we are in, including our emotional wellbeing.
And just like physical health, everyone can experience poor mental health at some point, which is why it’s so important to take care of it. Getting out and about in nature is a great way to clear the cobwebs and boost your mood.
How Nature Helps Mental Health
Research is evolving all the time on the benefits of nature on mental health and why we tend to feel at peace in the Great Outdoors. Whether it’s taking in the fresh air or being surrounded by animals, nature can affect us in a variety of ways.
Studies have shown that being in green spaces, like parks, gardens and forests, can have a positive effect on our wellbeing. In particular, spending time outdoors can reduce stress levels and generally improve our mood through increased feelings of calmness. Breathing in the fresh air regularly can also help us get a good night’s sleep and explains why we often feel knackered after a !
Physical activity and nature go hand-in-hand. Whether you’re going for a stroll or a 5K run, exercising outdoors helps to give our bodies and minds a boost. A great way to get in a little exercise outside is to add an extra 10 minutes to your journey. Whether that be getting off at an earlier stop on the bus or taking a different route on your commute, getting in some added walking time can help us clear our heads.
Being outdoors doesn’t have to mean adventuring. Taking some time out to unwind in nature can be amazing for our wellbeing. Next time you’re in the park, take a moment to slow down and look around. Put your phone away and take in the sights, sounds and smells around you. Why not try some mindfulness techniques to help you relax? Focus on your breathing and how the air fills your lungs, recognising what you feel in the moment. Forget about the world and simply exist.
Interacting with wildlife is a great way to connect with nature and improve our wellbeing. Simply watching birds in the garden or feeding ducks in the park can increase of feelings of happiness and relaxation. There’s so much to see when observing wildlife in their natural habitat and can give our minds something to focus on when life gets a little hectic. Why not try a with the kids and see how many animals you can spot?
For many people, being surrounded by nature inspires creativity. From painting and drawing to photography and writing, nature provides endless sources of wonder and surprise. Engaging in creative outlets like this can improve our mood and increase feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment for both adults and kids alike.
How to Bring Nature Indoors
Bringing nature indoors is a wonderful way to improve our wellbeing at home. This is especially important if you live in a city where fewer green spaces are available. But how exactly can you bring nature to you?
- Add some plants to your home – this is one of the easiest ways to bring nature indoors; not to mention, plants can help to purify the air and create a fresher environment. If you’re not interested in the upkeep of live plants, artificial plants and flowers can still add a vibrant pop of colour to your home.
- Grow your own herbs – you don’t need a garden to grow your own herbs. Sit a couple of containers on your windowsill and add some seeds, then watch your plants grow before your eyes! The smell of fresh herbs in your home is a great way to bring nature indoors.
- Decorate with natural materials – bring the Great Outdoors inside with furniture made from wood, stone, rattan, bamboo – you name it. If furniture is a big commitment, why not collect small treasures from the outside world like dried leaves, flowers and bark to decorate your home instead? Just remember to respect nature and don’t remove anything that should remain untouched.
- Bring the scents inside – love the smell of the forest or ocean? Bring your favourite scents inside with candles and diffusers. Whether it’s relaxing lavender, sweet chamomile or fresh rosemary, filling your home with fragrance is an easy way to bring nature inside.
- Let the light in – increasing natural light at home helps to improve our mood and regulates our body clock. Have you noticed that you tend to feel more tired in a room with little light in it? Maximise the amount of light in your home through windows, mirrors and glass, and discover the benefits it has for your wellbeing.
Nature Valley want you to Get Out More safely. Always check official health and safety guidelines before exploring and remember, enjoy nature responsibly!