By Tibor Anthony
An in-depth look at how spending time in green spaces can improve well-being and reduce stress.
Are you one of those people who has lost touch with nature, has spent too much time in the city, and now seeks to reconnect with the natural world in its most pristine state? If you want to experience wonder, adventure, and challenges while exploring the great outdoors and creating unforgettable memories, you’ve come to the right place. Nature is calling, and it is time to answer the call – step outside, take a deep breath of fresh air, and let the beauty of the natural world rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.
Spending time in nature, such as forests, parks, or gardens, has been shown to have a positive impact on reducing stress and anxiety levels in humans, and overall, on promoting a balanced mental health. Multiple research projects have substantiated that exposure to natural environments can lead to a decrease in levels of the cortisol, a hormone associated with stress and anxiety. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology, in April 2019, for example, suggests that spending a mere 20 minutes communing with nature can already reduce levels of such stress hormones, thereby balancing the anxiety levels.
Picture by Tibor Anthony
Being in the wilderness can also help in promoting mindfulness and relaxation. For instance, the sounds of nature, such as birds chirping, waves crashing, or leaves rustling, can help in promoting a sense of calmness and relaxation. According to renowned American clinical psychologist, Rochelle Calvert, these natural sounds improve our brain’s ability to maintain a state of tranquil and natural alertness, all of which are beneficial to the cultivation of mindfulness.
Engaging in outdoor physical activities such as hiking, jogging, or walking in natural environments is also a great way to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Exercise has been shown to improve mental health, and being outside can make the experience even more beneficial. “Outdoor exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function,” stated the University of Nebraska Medical Centre, in 2006, adding that it may also “alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.”
Nature can also be a great place to connect with others, which can provide social support. Joining a nature-based group or participating in outdoor activities with friends and/or relatives can provide a sense of belonging and support, which can help in promoting positive mental health. In summary, spending time outside, in nature, can reduce stress and anxiety levels through a combination of exposure to natural environments, mindfulness and relaxation, physical activity, and social support. If you are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, consider spending time in nature, as a way to promote positive mental health.
Picture by Tibor Anthony