Nature as a tool for stress relief
Stress is a common experience for too many people in today’s world – whether at home or at work. We all face negative, high-tension, stress-filled situations.
However, prolonged stress can have a negative effect on our mental and physical health – and this is where nature comes in.
You see, spending time in nature has been shown to have numerous benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood and boosting creativity.
In this blog post, we will explore how nature can be used as a tool to help with stress relief and mental health.
The benefits of nature for stress relief
Numerous studies across the world have now shown the benefits of spending time in nature when it comes to managing stress and improving your mental health.
For example, being in nature can lead to:
- Lower stress and anxiety
- Happier mood
- Increased creativity
So, let’s see how this happens.
Why nature is useful for stress and anxiety
Both qualitative and quantitative studies have now proven that spending time in nature can directly help our bodies to relax and de-stress by promoting lower cortisol levels and increasing secretion of parasympathetic hormone.
Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the fight or flight response by helping our bodies to tense up ready for action. While parasympathetic hormone helps in switching off the sympathetic drive so we can rest and relax again.
Together, these two actions lead to reduce our feelings of anxiety and put us in a more relaxed frame of mind.
How nature makes you happy
Just as spending time in nature can reduce our feelings of stress and anxiety, it can also have a directly calming effect on our brain and improve our mood. This effect happens in two ways.
First, being in natural environments stimulates the release of endorphins, or special chemicals, such as serotonin and melatonin that help us relax and make us feel good.
In addition, the body itself also releases these feel-good hormones in response to the excitement and joy we feel in the presence of a beautiful environment or when engaging in outdoor activities.
The beauty of nature for creativity
On top of the directly calming effects that being in nature has on our minds and bodies, being in nature can also helps us by enhancing our powers of creativity.
Because, we soon as we begin to relax and slow down, we also give our brains permission to relax and wander. This allows us to think about solutions to problems that may be bothering us, or consider new perspectives and ideas.
This helps us in an indirect way by letting us see ways out of our stressors – or to think of other ways we can handle them.
The art of mindfulness in nature
Finally, being in nature helps promote mindfulness – the feeling of connecting to and being part of our surroundings and environment, which helps us feel grounded and more content.
Because, being out in nature provides many opportunities for us to focus on and enjoy experiences in the present moment and momentarily forget about our troubles.
For example, when you are out in a natural environment, you cannot help by focus your senses to listen to bird song, smell a beautiful flower or feel the sun or wind in your face and the grass beneath your toes.
Spending time in nature
There are many ways you can try to bring more nature into your daily life, from walking, to active mindfulness, to gardening and outdoor activities.
Nature walks can be done anywhere, whether in your back garden, in a local park, or out in the countryside and they are a really simple and effective tool to help you relax and clear your mind.
Gardening is a great stress reliever too and working with plants, caring for them and watching them bloom and grow, also provides a sense of accomplishment and acievement.
As for outdoor activities… just choose the one you fancy! Hiking, camping, kayaking, cycling or horse riding are a few of the many, many examples. Just remember to relax and enjoy it – competitive activities may not be that effective at stress reduction!
As we have seen, being in nature can be a powerful tool for stress relief and improving our mental health and by enriching your life with outdoor activities and mindfulness, you can achieve some wonderful benefits.
So, take some time to breathe in the magic of nature and improve your wellbeing today… and don’t forget, if you enjoyed reading this blog post, sign up below to recieve email notifications of new blogs and articles x
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Related links and useful resources
- The benefits of mindful foraging
- The benefits of nature awareness
- Engaging your senses mindfully in nature
- Why being in nature wont help you de-stress
- Article: The health benefits of forest bathing
- Podcast: The healing power of nature with Brene Brown
- Video: How nature can make you kinder, happier and more creative with Louie Schwartzberg