Being in nature is important for all aspects of your health. After being cooped up all day at work or home, getting outside can have a tremendous impact on your overall well-being— particularly your mental health. Let’s take a look at how to use nature time to not only feel good but take charge of your mental wellness.
Benefits of Nature For Mental Health
Nature’s healing benefits can come in a few ways. There are both some physiological factors as well as psychological effects that spending time outside can have. Because of these benefits, spending time in nature is often included in comprehensive mental health treatment plans. Sometimes, doctors will prescribe ecotherapy to people suffering from certain mental illnesses.
Reduces Anxiety and Helps Alleviate Depression
Specifically, time in nature can help with some of the most common mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders or depression. Exercise, which is often used in combatting mental illness, might be typically done at your gym. However, studies have shown doing these types of activities immersed in nature is more beneficial than inside or in urban settings.
Frequently, time in nature may actually be prescribed in conjunction with traditional types of therapy. For those experiencing mental health struggles, the outdoors can provide a calming atmosphere and reduce stress levels. When struggling with mental health disorders, this positive headspace can be invaluable, which is why many therapists will use it alongside their counseling.
Disconnect from Social Media
Likely, one of the biggest challenges facing your mental health is social media. It can have many detrimental effects, such as decreased self-esteem, heightened anxiety, and feelings of loneliness.
Being outside can take you away from your digital environment and ground you in the real world, especially if you go somewhere without mobile service. It forces you to put down your screens and experience a more present, mindful existence.
Value of Sun for Mental Health
Exposure to the sun is one of the best things for your health. Lack of sunlight is one of the leading causes of seasonal affective disorder and can be tied to many other mental health concerns. Sunlight is especially helpful when combined with other forms of mental health treatment, such as cognitive behavior therapy or antidepressants.
When exposed to the sun, your skin creates vitamin D. This is the best way for your body to get vitamin D, as it is not found in many foods. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression and can cause fatigue and tiredness.
Activities You Can Try
Hiking has many mental health benefits; it’s one of the best ways to get outside. You can find hikes of any length and difficulty, from tenuous mountain paths to simple green forests.
Walking can be more accessible than other forms of outdoor recreation. On top of that. exploring gentler walking paths instead of hiking can help you to appreciate the nature around you, and focus less on the activity. While it might not be as strenuous exercise, nature walking can still be great for your mental wellbeing.
Social bonding is great for mental health. As such, combining the effects of going outside with a group activity can magnify the mental health benefits. These activities, like camping, group hikes/walks, going fishing, or even golfing, can make a lasting impact on your mental health and create great memories.
Practicing mindfulness meditation has many benefits on its own, such as improved sleep, and lowered anxiety and depression. By meditating outside, you can amplify these benefits!
You don’t need to head deep into the woods to meditate outside. You can try just closing your eyes and listening to the sounds in your garden, or even on your front step.
Star gazing is a great way to get into nature. While you won’t get the benefits of sun exposure, watching the stars has been an activity people have done for millennia and has many mental health benefits.
Light pollution from cities means that you can see stars the best deep in nature. If you can, find a dark sky area near you so you can see the maximum number of stars. This can help you reconnect with nature, calm your mind, and fill you with a sense of wonder.
Quick Wrap Up
Getting into nature has many benefits, and can nurture your mental health- however you decide to explore the outdoors. If you’re ready to get started, de-stress on one of our hiking tours in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, and Spain.