The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way we live our lives in almost every way. The impact on the economy has dominated discussions. Yet there’s another potential problem that’s going unaddressed.
The stay-at-home orders have had a huge psychological impact. They’ve particularly affected those who already had mental health difficulties. Loneliness is a problem for those isolated from their usual support networks.
Thankfully, you don’t need medication or lengthy courses of therapy to improve your mood and mental health. Mother Nature herself can provide mood-boosting effects for free whenever you need them.
Read on for six benefits of nature on mental health.
1. Enjoy Time Away From Racing Thoughts
One of the quickest ways to ruin your mood is to let your thoughts run away with you. It’s easily done if you’re working from home or you’re indoors at a job all day. With no change of scenery, it’s difficult to reset your thoughts to anything more positive.
One of the benefits of walking in nature is that you force yourself to slow down. There are no emails to answer, no calls to take, and nothing urgent screaming for attention.
Think of it like this. When you’re at the gym or doing cardio, the biggest changes happen during your rest period. Taking a break to recharge does the same for your mood and mental health.
2. Get Natural Mood Elevators Pumping
As we said in the introduction, you don’t need medications to help even out your mood. Head out for a hike in nature to boost your endorphins.
Your body produces these natural chemicals following exercise because they’re analgesics. That means you don’t perceive pain as much.
This explains the ‘runner’s high’ that people get when they’ve been for a run. Even a brisk walk or a hike can prompt the body to release them.
Yet here’s why endorphins are so useful. They don’t just minimize pain; they also help reduce depression and anxiety. That makes them a natural mood booster you can access through mild exercise.
A hike in nature is the perfect excuse to get started today. Though if you still think endorphins aren’t doing the trick, try natural CBD treatments. CBD hash can help improve your mental health too.
3. Enjoy Natural Sunlight
Make getting regular daylight part of your natural mental health treatment. This is very important if you spend a lot of time working at your desk or indoors. A lack of sunlight can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
That’s because natural daylight helps the body to produce vitamin D. Not getting enough sunlight means you don’t produce enough vitamin D, which leads to depression.
Vitamin D is a super-vitamin that has a lot of health benefits for the body. It helps to boost your immune defenses so you’ll get over minor illnesses much quicker.
Yet its major benefit here is its impact on your mood. Studies have shown that vitamin D supplements can even reduce symptoms of depression.
Getting out into nature is a great way to get your daily dose of sunlight. Even walking in the park or working in your garden can give you the time outdoors that you need.
Combine it with a brisk walk and get the added benefits of those lovely endorphins!
4. Be ‘Present’ in Nature
People have a tendency to spend too much time in the past or future. We worry about what’s happened or what might happen. We can’t control either of those things.
The only thing we can affect is the present. Even better, once you pay attention to the present, you stop trying to control everything.
Try this as an experiment. Head out to your nearest park, garden, or nature trail. Find somewhere quiet to sit.
Wait a few moments to gather your scattered thoughts. Tune in to the sounds around you. What can you hear? Any bird song, or rustling in the undergrowth? Now focus on the smells. Can you smell flowers, damp earth, or the tang of running water? Finally, look around. What can you see? Count how many birds or plants are nearby.
How do you feel after that? We’ll bet you’re a lot calmer. Focus on what’s here now and stop worrying about everything else. Who knows? You might also see a beautiful animal or plant on your jaunt!
5. Reconnect With Your Roots
As humans, we sometimes forget that we’re part of the natural world. We’re mammals, just like the rabbits, mice, and coyotes around us.
When we lock ourselves away in artificial structures, we lose this connection to where we come from. Concrete, steel, and glass may look good, but they’re not natural materials.
By getting back into nature, we can reconnect to a gentler, simpler setting. This is a great way to set your worries aside and get back to the joy of being alive.
6. Nature Even Affects Your Brain
So far, we’ve discussed the benefits of being in nature on your mental health. Yet nature also affects the brain itself. Research shows that even looking at nature can reduce stress, calm the nervous system, and help your brain recharge.
The theory goes that it helps your prefrontal cortex rest. This is the part of your brain that does the ‘heavy lifting’ for thinking. By getting out into nature, that part of the brain can enjoy a breather.
This means you can go back to your life feeling rejuvenated. You’ll be better equipped to handle things that would otherwise lower your mood or make you anxious.
Enjoy the Benefits of Nature on Mental Health
Whether you want to boost your mood, unwind stress, or increase your empathy, nature can help. It’s ready and waiting if you head outside to reap the rewards.
It’s easy to enjoy the benefits of nature on mental health. You can choose somewhere nearby, like a park or garden. Or head out to your nearest nature trail or forest. Just be sure to pick somewhere you can be safe and relaxed.
Keen to find more ways to improve your mood? Check out our health articles for more tips and advice.
Ben Stern wrote this article on behalf of FreeUp. FreeUp is the fastest-growing freelance marketplace in the US. FreeUp only accepts the top 1% of freelance applicants. Click here to get access to the top freelancers in the world.
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