The Connection Between Nature and Mental Health
One of my main reasons for spending more time outdoors is that it improves my mental health. It took me a while to realise how important nature was to me. Growing up, I thought I was a city girl at heart but I am definitely not. The city I grew up in, Stockholm, is not a typical big city. There’s water everywhere in Stockholm and lots of greenery and woodland nearby – I was always close to nature without actively thinking about it.
Now, I’m very much aware of my need to be in nature and love spending time in the woods, in the countryside and by the seaside. Oh how being close to the water makes me happy – like Moana says: “it calls me”. I love the views of these places, the fresh air and the calm.
This connection between nature and mental health is not unique to me, of course. Lots of people want to connect more with nature and we all have our own personal experiences and needs. What we do have in common is that spending time in nature is good for our mental health. Whether you are suffering from more serious mental health problems such as depression or anxiety or you are simply feeling stressed and overwhelmed with life, getting outdoors can be very helpful and make a positive impact on your well-being.
- How Nature Can Improve Your Well-Being
There are lots of different ways to enjoy nature’s benefits for both your mental and physical health – gardening and growing your own vegetables or flowers, spending time around animals like horses outside, exercising outdoors, walking/hiking, camping and many more.
Just enjoying a beautiful view sat close to a window is even beneficial and you can also enjoy nature via nature sound apps, documentaries and videos on YouTube when you can’t head out yourself for whatever reason. Plus, let’s not forget about the ways you can bring nature into your home with plants and décor too. These latter examples are not quite the same as the real thing of course but can still help you feel the benefits of nature.
So, what are some of the positive effects nature can have on your well-being? We have already mentioned stress reduction – spending time in nature is a great way to reduce your stress levels and improve your mood. Take some time to enjoy the outdoors and you will come home feeling lights as you will most likely have left some of your worries, anger and stress behind. Instead, you can enjoy feeling more relaxed and happier too.
Getting out and moving around outside is naturally great for your physical health too as you are getting both exercise and fresh air. You will get stronger and fitter as you become more active which makes you feel great. Furthermore, if you challenge yourself with new adventures, your self-esteem will grow even more and you will feel more confident both outdoors and in general life too. Spending time outdoors also makes you sleep better which is a nice bonus and something that helps you feel better physically and mentally.
Another important benefit of heading out in nature is that it can help with feelings of loneliness as you meet and get to know people from your local community or find new friends with similar interests. Many people like to get out in nature to enjoy some peace and quiet away from their busy lives and to have some time to themselves but it’s still nice to have quick interactions with other people who are out enjoying nature – a quick hello and a smile is all you need. If you need any help, you know there are friendly people there to talk to but if one of your needs is to be by yourself that is of course completely fine too.
For me, it’s about taking time for myself and my family to enjoy the beauty of nature, to get out and use our bodies and have fun outdoors. Making sure I go for walks daily is an important part of my self-care – I walk with my family, I walk with friends and I walk on my own and I always feel more relaxed and happier both during and afterwards. When I walk on my own, I also usually listen to audio books which lets me combine two of my favourite things – walking and reading books while also being able to enjoy the scenery.