From boosting your mood to reducing stress, spending time in nature does wonders for your wellbeing. Find out how.
Around 35 years ago, a young researcher stumbled across a theory that transformed the way scientists thought about nature’s influence on the brain.
Roger Urlich spent much of his childhood in hospital. His room had a small window, which overlooked a solitary pine tree.
As Urlich’s health improved, he wondered: did that tree play a part in helping him to recover? And, did patients without views of nature fare worse?
Urlich eventually found his answer. He studied a group of patients in identical rooms, except some patients had a view of trees, and other patients had a view of a brick wall.
The results showed that those with the view of trees fared far better than those with the view of bricks. Those overlooking trees took fewer painkillers, appeared to be in better spirits, and were often discharged from hospital sooner.
Urlich’s findings prompted a new wave of scientific research. If just looking at trees made people feel better, what would be the benefits of actually spending time out in nature?
Since this study, research has continued to find strong links between time in nature and wellbeing. The more scientists delve into this topic, the clearer it is that being in nature does incredible things to our brains, bodies, and emotions.
Here are 7 of the best benefits of spending time in nature.
1. Nature boosts your mood
Being in nature — or even just looking at scenes of nature — is shown to “increase pleasant feelings”, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota. Nature is a great mood booster.
2. Nature reduces stress
Spending just 20 minutes a day in nature can significantly lower your stress hormones, found a 2019 study published in Frontiers in Psychology. The results are so powerful that some health practitioners are encouraged to prescribe ‘nature time’ to their patients.
3. Nature connects you to others
Many people associate being in nature with spending time alone. So, it might surprise you to learn that nature helps you feel more connected to your community. Researchers think this is because being in nature fosters feelings of empathy, love, and belonging.
4. Nature improves creativity and problem-solving
Ever noticed how much clearer and lighter a problem feels after spending time outside? Whether you walk, cycle, run, or just gaze at the clouds, nature has a way of sparking creativity and improving problem-solving, found one 2012 study.
5. Nature may protect against anxiety and depression
The links between spending time in nature and protecting against anxiety and depression are well-documented. Among the scientific community, the consensus is clear: the more time you spend outside in green spaces, the better.
6. Nature is good for heart health
Being in nature usually means moving your body in some way — such as walking along the beach, for example — so there’s a strong link between spending time in nature and good heart health.
7. Nature gives you hope
A 2006 study found that people who live in leafy, green environments are more likely to feel better about their health and their future. Nature has a way of making everyday stress feel smaller, and everyday life better.
Easy ways to spend more time in nature
You don’t need to live by the beach or move to the country to enjoy the benefits of nature. Here are some easy ways to get a nature boost, no matter where you live.
- Get up early to watch the sunrise and start the day.
- Eat as many meals as you can outside.
- Exercise outdoors instead of inside.
- Go for a daily walk.
- Have a coffee break by taking a stroll around the garden or block.
- Read your book outside — sitting under a tree or lying down on the grass.
- Listen to nature sounds during your drives instead of music
- Have more indoor house plants
Bad weather or don’t have the time for a quick outdoor break? Try listening to nature sounds with featured art work by BOPHO.
Article written by Groov by Mentemia