Taking inspiration from the BHF and Positive Psychology, fresh air and exercise is an instant mood booster and instrumental in maintaining your wellbeing. Why not incorporate a walk in the woods or a nearby park into your daily routine? This is an ideal way of achieving the recommended minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week and connecting with nature boosts your mood and just being outdoors relieves stress and anxiety.
Research has found that spending time in nature can relieve stress and anxiety. While walking in a less-urban green space has the greatest effects, the good news is that even a quick walk through a city park can relieve stress. As a bonus, some research even suggests that getting outside benefits your memory and other cognitive skills.
Walking through nature — specifically a forest — can reduce tension and anger. It also can help lower your heart rate, which in turn can make you calmer. Studies have shown that spending time in nature as a child leads to lifelong benefits as exposure to green space is associated with a lower risk of mental health issues in adulthood. So if you have kids or grandchildren etc. get outdoors and you’ll both get the benefits now, and they’ll get the benefits as they grow up too. It’s never too late to benefit! So step outside and start a happy cycle!
It works like this: People who spend more time in green spaces are more likely to feel strongly connected to the natural world when people feel connected to nature, they spend even more time in it. This leads to a cycle of connectedness and time in nature, which brings even more health benefits. In addition, spending more time in nature leads to more pro-environmental behaviors, according to research. This means that people who spend time outdoors are more likely to take action to ensure nature can thrive so more people reap the benefits of you spending time outdoors! (Interestingly just looking at pictures of nature and presumably watching nature documentaries also has a huge positive effect!)
Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, as as the Japanese call it is a way of spending time in nature and studies have shown benefits for the heart, nervous system gut as well as reducing the development of visual disorders. Those who exercise outdoors report being less fatigued and have a lower BMI.
Nature helps emotional regulation and improves memory functions and nature walks benefit people suffering from depression possibly by focusing attention and concentrating on being at one with nature rather than ruminating on our internal thoughts.
By staying close to nature, we feel more grateful and appreciative of what it has to offer to us and makes us feel part of something bigger and important for us to savour and protect.
Environmental psychology is rooted in the belief that nature has a significant role in human development and conduct. It believes that nature has a vital contribution to the way we think, feel, and behave with others.
A large-scale experiment conducted on 120 subjects ascertained the ‘nature-connection’ in stress reduction and coping. Each participant observed visuals of either a natural landscape or an urban environment. The data obtained from this survey revealed that participants who looked at the picture of natural setting had low scores on stress scales and had better heartbeat and pulse counts.
Furthermore, investigators also found that the stress recovery rate was much higher in participants who got a natural exposure than the ones who saw urbanized ambiances.
Encounters with any aspect of the natural environment – sunset, beach, clouds, or forests grab our positive attention without us paying much effort to it, and the whole process restores the life energy that negative emotions had taken away from us.
Studies have also shown that those with higher connectivity with nature and who spend more time outdoors were more environmentally responsible, concerned, and happier in their interpersonal relationships.