Many of us have spent the last year largely disconnected from nature, locked down and unable to travel – this is coming to an end. In this edition of Wellness Matters, I’ll share some of the benefits of getting back into nature for your physical and mental health.
Happiness and Mental Health
Spending time in nature can have incredible benefits for our overall happiness and mental health. One Finnish study found that spending just 15 minutes sitting in nature helped people feel “psychologically restored” – this effect was felt even faster when they spent that time walking.
A primary symptom of increased stress is an elevated heartrate. Being in nature can help to reduce stress on the body and mind, an effective way to lower our heart rate!
You don’t always have to travel a great distance to get these benefits, studies have shown that simply being able to see green plants can have restorative effects. Having indoor plants, a garden patch or some greenery growing on your balcony can improve your happiness and mental health. Check out our blog on houseplants for more tips!
Taking a break in nature can help to improve your concentration by giving your mind a much-needed break. According to a study from Psychological Science, interacting with nature can help to give your brain a break from overstimulation, which can have a restorative effect on your attention levels. A great way to improve productivity. Leave your phone and devices behind for an even better feeling or relaxation!
To take advantage of this natural phenomenon, there is an increasing number of outdoor schools worldwide. A tradition in Scandinavia (where a lot of teaching/learning takes place outdoors), the number of outdoor schools in the US has risen by 500% since 2012.
Spending time outdoors is an excellent natural way to boost our vitamin D levels. When our skin absorbs sunlight it begins the process of creating and activating vitamin D in our bodies. Studies suggest that this helps fight certain conditions from osteoporosis to depression – even heart attacks!
Outdoor activities can prompt weight loss and cardiovascular health simultaneously. Try walking, hiking or even running (if you’re up for it) out in a local park or reserve to help you lose weight and increase your overall physical health! Spending time at higher altitudes may even speed up your metabolism and decrease your appetite.
Furthermore, a Japanese study showed women who spent six hours in the woods over a two-day period increased their white blood cells, which are present for fighting off viruses, boosting our immune systems.
If you are have any favourite parks, forests or natural locations near you – let us know!
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