Why being out in nature is important for mental and emotional wellness
Nature is healing. However you want to look at it, nature does offer so many benefits. For me, spending time in nature reduced my anxiety.
Whenever I went for walks in the woods or along the beach, I felt refreshed and more mentally clearer. Whilst I wouldn’t say that spending time in nature was the “cure” for my anxiety, it certainly did help to lift my spirits so to speak.
Put it this way, whenever I was out and about in nature rather than spending time staring at screens, it’s nature that made me feel mentally and emotionally restored. I always loved the feeling of coming indoors after being out in nature. You end up in a much better frame of mind when you carry on your day.
Here’s what I read from an article outlining the benefits nature has on our anxiety levels.
This is taken from: https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing
“One of the most intriguing areas of current research is the impact of nature on general wellbeing. In one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. Other studies by Ulrich, Kim, and Cervinka show that time in nature or scenes of nature are associated with a positive mood, and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality. Furthermore, time in nature or viewing nature scenes increases our ability to pay attention. Because humans find nature inherently interesting, we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing out in nature. This also provides a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks. In another interesting area, Andrea Taylor’s research on children with ADHD shows that time spent in nature increases their attention span later.”
As you can see, nature can provide respite for our active minds. Isn’t this what we want? Of course, I’m not saying that you will feel on top of the world from being out in nature. I guess it depends how deep into the anxiety disorder you are.
However, with that being said, you will definitely benefit from seeing and being in the natural environment, even when you are in a severe state. It all adds up.
I didn’t particularly feel amazing when I was in deep anxiety, but I knew it still helped me. I did feel clearer and more refreshed even with the anxiety symptoms and thoughts still present.
It allows us to be present to the moment
The only moment there ever is, is now – this one. Being in nature helps us to be fully immersed in the present moment. Really pay attention to the sights and sounds of the natural environment.
What wildlife can you see? Maybe you can see deer shooting off in the distance or a bird of prey gliding through the sky.
What sounds can you hear? Maybe you can hear the sound of leaves crunching under your feet as you walk in the forest or the sound of the waves crashing against the shore as you are lying on the beach with your eyes closed.
Give yourself completely to your sense perceptions. Don’t expect to escape the mental chatter of your mind, but just pay attention to your present experience and let nature do the rest. It will guide you to a place of rejuvenation and creative clarity.
Being present automatically helps us to reduce feelings of stress because it takes us out of our problem-generated mind. Problems are created within the mind. Of course challenging life circumstances happen, there’s no doubt about that, but we turn them into personal problems when we tell ourselves horror stories about these challenging life circumstances.
Being present isn’t an effort on our part though. The more we force ourselves to be present, the less present we become as we become caught up in our resisting mind.
The gift of nature
Nature is full of richness. The air that we breathe is given to us as a gift from the trees which surround us. The trees and greenery are rich in oxygen. Oxygen helps to cleanse our blood and as a result, it makes us feel more alive and refreshed.
Whenever I’m out in nature, I always feel lighter and things seem to flow more. Ideas find their way to me a lot easier when I’m walking in the woods or walking along the beach.
I always make sure to carry a notebook or take my phone with me to take note of the ideas that seem to seep into my consciousness as I’m exposed to the natural beauty.
Whilst this might just be opinion, I certainly do feel more creative when I’ve been in nature. I don’t feel quite the same when I’m walking around a housing estate.
If you’re able to and can get out into nature, even if it’s just a local park, then I highly recommend spending time there. If that’s walking in the woods, spending time picnicking in a meadow or fishing by the lake, be there and spend quality time in that environment. It’s so good for our mental and emotional well-being.
It’s not just about exercising in nature though. Whilst I do recommend you exercise in nature, just sitting there and absorbing it has a calming effect on the mind.
Sometimes, when we are walking or jogging, we don’t always take in everything in our environment, especially when we are focused on our fitness. Let go of any agendas you have and just allow yourself to get lost in the stunning natural landscape.
Let this act as a therapeutic hobby. It will help when you least expect it to. You’ll appreciate being out in nature even more so when you are recovering. Keep going. Expose yourself to the beautiful natural world as often as you can.
Let nature breathe the goodness into you.
Until next time
PS. I recommend reading the article I included in this post. You can view it here: https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing