The conversation regarding mental health has improved so much in recent years. Years back, the stigma attached to mental health has made it difficult for people to seek help and guidance.
Now, with global celebrities like Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and others talking openly about their mental health issues, people are slowly feeling that it’s okay to come out with their own problems. Even the Cambridge and Sussex Royals – William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan, have spoken about their mental health advocacy as their priority.
This has also caused the rise of many medications designed to treat mental health issues. While these drug-assisted therapies may be helpful for some people, it is worth considering natural ways of addressing mental health. One of these ways is spending time in the outdoors. To learn more about the effectiveness of this method, here are five science-backed evidences.
Helps Reduce Depression and Makes You Happier
A lot of people get depressed because of unfortunate or unpleasant experiences in their lives. If you’re feeling depressed, a walk in nature may just be the trick. According to one study, a 90-minute hike outdoors could lead to a lower risk of depression as compared to a walk in an urban setting.
Being outdoors has also been shown to have mood-enhancing powers. The key to this is sunlight. Sunlight triggers the increase in dopamine and serotonin in your brain, also known as the happy hormones. These are chemicals responsible for giving you feelings of pleasure and euphoria, and improving your mood.
Leading a busy, hectic lifestyle can be stressful. There are many stressors like your job, your family, your history, your responsibilities and many other things. In fact, the latest stats showed that 74% of UK adults are stressed. If you are one of these people, nature could help you relieve some of that stress.
A study conducted in Japan found that spending regular periods of time in forest environments (they call forest bathing) can lower cortisol levels, the brain’s stress hormone, as well as lower blood pressure and pulse rate. These results suggest that forest bathing can help in relaxation.
Another serious mental health concern is anxiety. Anxiety disorder is defined as the constant, uncontrollable act of worrying over something that has not happened yet. For example, if the company you’re working for is facing a tough time, you may be feeling anxious whether you’re going to be able to keep your job.
Family relationships can cause anxiety too, especially for parents having a difficult time with their children, or children having a difficult time with their parents. According to a study, nature can have a dampening effect on anxiety so going outdoors may help you lessen bouts of anxiety.
Restores Your Focus and Boost Creativity
If you can’t think clearly because of too much stuff going on in your brain, hiking or walking in nature will help. Research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology suggests that natural environments can help in promoting restorative experiences. It helps in clearing your mind and redirecting your attention so you can concentrate and focus more in what you want to do.
At the same time, if you are feeling a mental block and need a boost in creativity, the outdoors can help. A study published in PLOS ONE scientific journal suggest that nature has an effect on creative reasoning and problem solving skills.
Are you often frustrated because you regularly forget things? It can be something as simple as forgetting where you placed your phone, or something as serious as not remembering a major work deadline. If you want to enhance your memory, consider spending time outdoors.
Research has found that spending time in nature could improve your memory. According to researchers, students fared better in memory tests after spending 30 minutes outdoors.
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