A love for nature and outdoor activities is a common trait that people in the world bond over and share. We know that nature can be fun and freeing, and time spent with nature is something a lot of people look forward to, but can it support your mental health? The answer is “yes.” So, what are the mental health advantages of nature, and how can a love for nature support clients who are struggling with their mental health?
Mental Health Advantages of Nature
Here are some of the ways that nature can help mental health:
1. Reduced stress
We can all expect to experience stress from time to time, but ongoing stress can seriously strain your mental health, physical health, and interpersonal relationships. With this in mind, stress management is imperative. The good news is that nature can help you relieve stress. In fact, in as little as 20-30 minutes, nature is shown to reduce stress levels and lower cortisol.
2. Reduced levels of depression and anxiety
Next to stress, anxiety and depression are among some of the most common mental health concerns that impact people across the globe. Research shows that time in nature can help to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can reduce distress, provide a boost in self-esteem, and decrease irritability. In addition to giving you the opportunity to clear your mind, nature is an avenue for physical activity, vitamin D, and other factors that can promote psychological and emotional health.
3. Improved concentration and focus
Various studies show that nature can boost attentiveness and reduce the number of errors a person makes while completing a task. Though it’s not a full-fledged treatment for ADHD, expert sources say that nature can even help with symptom management in those who have ADHD. Additionally, studies on workers show that workplace productivity is higher when employees are exposed to nature.
4. Better sleep
It’s no secret that sleep is one of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle when it comes to caring for your physical and mental wellbeing. A lack of sleep is affiliated with a number of distinct threats, including irritability, increased levels of anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, a higher risk of getting into a car accident, and more. Studies show that getting outdoors during the day can help you get better sleep at night.
5. An opportunity for volunteer work
For those interested in protecting the environment, it’s worth noting that volunteer work can be seriously advantageous to a person’s mental and physical health. That’s not to say that it’s a replacement for mental health treatment – it’s not, but if you’re interested in volunteer work related to the environment or another passion, you can reap the potential benefits, including increased social opportunities and a boost in mood.
Nature can benefit your physical health, too. Research shows that exposure to green spaces can heighten immune functioning, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, and more.
How a Love for Nature is a Blessing for Mental Health Patients
If you love nature, it’s a blessing by default. On top of the research-backed perks listed above, nature is an outlet. Being outdoors can promote a sense of relaxation that’s particularly valuable in the modern world, and for many people, nature-related activities are simply a passion.
As for what it can do for mental health patients, green spaces in cities are shown to promote mental health in the general population, and for those living with mental health conditions, the inclusion of nature is getting more and more recognition for what it can offer people.
In addition to being a supportive factor in daily life outside of mental health treatment environments, nature can be used in therapeutic settings. Many treatment centers for mental health concerns include nature activities, such as nature walks or outdoor equine therapy, as part of the schedules they set for clients. Hobbies are important for mental health, but it’s more than just that – nature provides an outlet, a sense of calm, and that crucial boost in mood alongside the possibility of supporting the reduction of symptoms.
The conclusion? Nature alone isn’t a replacement for professional help, but it can boost your mood alongside a host of other benefits. Implement nature into your life as a way to support your wellbeing, and if you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Find a Therapist
We all need support from time to time. Whether you’re struggling with a mental health condition, life stressors, or something else that’s on your mind, having someone to talk to can make a world of difference. There are a number of ways to find a therapist who meets your needs. You can contact your insurance company to see who they cover, ask your doctor for a referral, search the web, or sign up for a reputable online therapy platform with licensed providers like BetterHelp. Online therapy is often more affordable than traditional in-person services are without insurance, and it’s a convenient way to see someone licensed in your state from the privacy of your own home or anywhere else with a reliable internet connection. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve quality care, so don’t be afraid to take the first step today.