Text by Isabella Lovett
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common illnesses in the world, and according to the World Health Organization, there are over 260 million individuals worldwide who are coping with depression, while more than 280 million people are struggling with anxiety disorders. The rise in the number of people with mental health disorders is the result of a combination of factors, including having toxic relationships as well as having to deal with pressure on a regular basis. Moreover, the fact that we’ve strayed further from our natural world has also contributed to the negative feelings that we experience in our daily lives. Medication and therapy can help to reduce negative emotions, but if you want to heal in a holistic way, it’s important to bring more nature into your life for your health and happiness. Here are all the ways nature can make you feel better.
Being in nature can relieve stress
A little stress can be a healthy part of our lives as it helps us to be mentally alert and focused. But too much stress can lead to anxiety and depression, and it can even lead to other health problems such as obesity, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Taking some time for stress management is a must, and while some people cope with stress by having a glass of wine or watching TV, a better way to deal with it is to take a walk in the park or go on a short hike through the woods. Being in nature reduces stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate, and it also decreases muscle tension, making you feel a lot better. Just 10 minutes of being in nature can be beneficial to your mental wellness, so the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, put on some comfortable shoes, head out the door, and go for a stroll in a green space within your area to clear your mind.
It reduces anxiety
It’s normal to feel a little anxious every now and then, but if your anxiety affects your daily routine, then consulting a professional for treatment and medication can help you cope. Along with professional treatment, there are other things that you can do to manage anxiety on your own. For instance, using natural supplements or eating foods that contain Vitamin B-complex, melatonin or L-theanine can help to calm you and reduce anxiety. Getting enough Vitamin D can also help you naturally manage anxiety, as it promotes a feeling of good well-being. Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D, so exercising in the garden, doing yoga outdoors, or swimming in the ocean will enable you to benefit from the sun and nature so you can beat anxiety for good.
It helps you sleep better
Lack of sleep is one of the signs of anxiety and depression, and those who experience negative feelings may find that their emotions may also contribute to their sleeplessness. In order to get better sleep, try spending an active day in nature – or sleeping out in the open. There’s a reason why most people are able to sleep better while camping or during a beach holiday. The sounds of nature, such as flowing water, the pitter patter of raindrops, and the sound of leaves rustling in the wind can all help to lull you to sleep. Meanwhile, looking at restful nature scenery such as gentle ocean waves on the beach or a starlit sky can also help to ease fatigue, calm the mind, and reset your body’s internal clocks to a natural sleep cycle, enabling you to easily fall asleep at night.
It makes you feel happier
Those who live in big cities may experience nature deficit disorder, which is a mixture of feelings of discontent, sadness and anxiety due to lack of exposure to nature. As we lose our connection to the natural world, we also lose our ability to engage with one another as we withdraw further into ourselves. To feel happier, it’s important to reconnect with nature and spend some time out in the natural world. A study has found that spending as little as 15 minutes in the park or in the forest will help people to feel psychologically restored. Meanwhile, another study found that a 90-minute walk can produce changes in the brain that can protect against depression, proving that spending time in nature can benefit your health and lead to happiness.
Your mental health should be a priority, especially during trying times. The next time you’re feeling sad, scared, angry or anxious, aim to spend as much time as you can outdoors, and see how it can instantly improve your mood and increase your happiness in a natural way.