The great outdoors has many well-known physical advantages, including promoting a healthy lifestyle with exercise. Still, many people do not think of going outside when they feel anxious or upset and want to turn their mood around. From hiking to gardening, the outdoors offers various activities to promote mental healing.
Some refer to spending time in nature as forest bathing, ecotherapy or nature mindfulness. All these terms describe the perks of going outdoors and why it can improve various aspects of your well-being.
Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors
Surrounding yourself with nature can enrich your physical and mental health. On average, most Americans spend about 90% of their lives indoors. As we age, we become even less likely to explore nature, which causes us to miss out on these advantages.
As research continues on the benefits of nature science, researchers have found nature is necessary for physical health and cognitive functioning. Spending time in a natural setting can result in an improved quality of life, including lower blood pressure, reduced stress hormone levels and enhanced immune system function.
Exploring nature can improve your mood and lessen negative emotions, such as depression, anger, frustration, fear and concern. Spending time outdoors can also promote positivity, including happiness, optimism and contentment. A study conducted by Robert Ulrich compared two groups of patients recovering from gallbladder surgery. The group who got to look at a view of trees tolerated pain better, experienced fewer side effects and went home from the hospital sooner than patients recovering from the same procedure who had a view of a wall.
Spending time outdoors is good for you, since it can help reduce stress levels. According to some research, it takes as little as 10 minutes in nature for college students to feel happier and lessen the effects of stress on their bodies and minds. Nature’s positive benefits take effect almost instantly. Spending 10 to 50 minutes in green spaces can effectively reduce stress, improve focus and lower blood pressure levels and heart rate.
Traditionally, many view spending time outdoors as a great way to exercise and lead a physically healthy lifestyle. Exercise can improve various aspects of mental health and decrease anxiety levels. People who exercise regularly have better emotional well-being and mental health.
Physical exercise can boost the mood, improve concentration and promote a healthier lifestyle, physically and mentally. Experts recommend 30 minutes of exercise five days a week to improve your overall well-being. Physical activity does not always have to be strenuous. A gentle walk around the block or an outdoor yoga session can still be rewarding.
When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel good mentally. Physical exercise encourages the brain to produce endorphins, which promote positivity and contentment. Running, hiking and sports can increase endorphins and lead to the characteristic “runner’s high.”
Spending time in the great outdoors can improve focus and concentration. Researchers have found that children with ADHD seem to focus better after spending time outdoors. On average, children with ADHD also scored better on a test involving concentration after walking through a park or nature area. Regular exercise and spending time in green spaces can improve concentration and the ability to focus effectively.
Increases Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for your health, and the best way to get more is to be in the sunshine. Research has shown that raising vitamin D levels can improve depression. Additional studies have also discovered that overweight people with a vitamin D deficiency were more likely to experience depression symptoms.
Fosters New Relationships
Time in nature and the outdoors can increase a feeling of connection with others. Making new friends can be incredibly beneficial for those suffering from anxiety, depression or general feelings of isolation. Loneliness can adversely affect your mental and physical health. Healthy relationships can help lower levels of anxiety and depression, increase empathy and raise self-esteem.
Ecotherapy to Improve Mental Health
Ecotherapy is a form of nature therapy that can promote mental healing and growth by spending time outdoors. Ecotherapy is a formal treatment with a trained professional to provide a structured treatment session in a natural setting. Various forms of ecotherapy treatments include adventure therapy, green exercise, therapeutic gardening or wilderness therapy. As an effective treatment and tool, ecotherapy can help improve mindfulness to reduce negative emotions stemming from regrets about the past or concerns about the future.
Being in Nature Benefits Mental Health
Humans have an instinctive connection to nature. In the modern age of technology, we may be prone to forget about spending time outdoors and its associated health benefits. Being outdoors can stimulate our senses and help us refocus and center our emotions. Spending time in nature boosts mental health, lessens the frequency and severity of negative emotions and promotes a healthy mindset.
- Depression: If you’re feeling sad or hopeless, let nature help you heal by improving various symptoms of depression. While spending time outdoors is ideal, even a natural landscape view can help perk you up.
- Anxiety: Nature can ease anxiety symptoms. Regular exercise can improve mental health and lessen anxiety. Exercising outdoors in nature can further enhance your mood and regulate anxious emotions.
- Stress: Spending time in nature can reduce feelings of stress. On average, a 20-minute nature break is all it takes to relieve stress and boost your mood. Cortisol is your body’s primary stress hormone. Typically, those who regularly spend 20 to 30 minutes outside enjoying nature have lower cortisol levels than those who rarely go outdoors.
- Fatigue: Staying indoors connected to TV and computer screens can cause fatigue and a lack of motivation. Many people may feel overwhelmed and tired from their many responsibilities. Spending time outdoors can improve short-term memory and other mental abilities.
- Isolation: Spending so much time indoors can cause people to feel disconnected from society. Anxiety and depression can worsen loneliness and drive a wedge between you and others. Exploring the outdoors and visiting communal nature areas, such as a park or popular hiking trail, can foster new friendships and relationships. Maintaining relationships can improve your mood and increase a sense of connection.
Anxiety Treatment Services
At Taylor Counseling Group, we pride ourselves on offering affordable and accessible mental health services throughout Texas. We believe that reliable mental health care should be available to everyone. Our services include individual counseling, family therapy, couples counseling and play therapy. We work with clients age 5 through late adulthood to heal from anxiety and depression.
One of our goals at Taylor Counseling Group is to provide affordable care, so each client can find the best treatment course possible for their unique needs. Therapy is a life-changing experience that can provide transformational changes to those dealing with the hardships of anxiety or depression.
Call us at 214-530-0021 or schedule an appointment online today.