Have you noticed a difference in your energy and mood after interacting with nature? How about going for a walk through your favorite park or smelling your favorite flower? Do you leave feeling more relaxed? Calm? Have a smile on your face? If you tried any of those activities and noticed a positive and uplifting shift in your energy and mood, your mental health likely was positively impacted by nature.
Nature and mental health are more closely connected than you may think. Did you know spending time in nature outdoors eases symptoms of anxiety and depression? This can be done through physical and mental techniques.
By spending just 10 to 15 minutes in nature, your body is exposed to plants, the sun. While spending time in nature, our bodies reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. And if that wasn’t good enough, guess what? Nature also boosts endorphins, the same hormone released to make you feel happy.
In other words – drumroll please – nature makes you happy! Interacting with nature in YOUR environment is a great way to receive endorphins and continue to feel the positive effects that nature has on your mind and body. But how? Let me list some ways:
Interact with plants
Interacting with plants through physical means reduces the stress response created in the nervous system. When you touch, smell, or even taste (safe and edible) flowers, your mind and body feel relaxed and happy. So try out gardening, go flower picking, get creative! Just remember, once in a while, to stop and smell the roses! (But really because it may give you a smile 😊 )
Engage with nature
Having nature in your environment gives you the chance to experience it in your day-to-day living. Have fun with it, engage with those around you, be one with nature itself. You can go bike riding, have a picnic in the sun, opt for outside dining with family and friends, or practice meditation and mindfulness.
Did you know you can practice mindfulness and meditation while going for a walk? Always consult your doctor or mental health professional before performing any kind of exercise or technique.
Here is my favorite walking meditation:
- Begin walking at a slower pace than normal
- Repeat words in your mind such as moving, lifting up, stepping down
- As you begin to move, lift up, and step down, focus on each breath
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
About the Author: Kameren McFadden is a meditation, mindfulness, and personal growth engagement enthusiast