Our environments have the power to influence our moods. They can stress us out, keep us neutral, and make us feel relaxed. That is why it is vital to find the environment that can encourage pleasure. An environment that has shown to be healing over and over is greenspaces. Studies have shown that exposure to nature has an overall positive impact on human’s mental health, physical health, and social behavior. Not everyone may easily have access to a picturesque scenery but there are certainly ways to integrate nature in your everyday life.
Benefits of Nature
Put simply, nature is an antidote to the hustle and bustle. An environment that is noisy, bland to the eye, disheveled, polluted, or inaccessible because of its architecture, has extreme weather conditions, lacks access to nature, is exposed to toxins and hazardous materials, or is generally unsafe feels chaotic, which contributes to agitating stress. Additionally, research shows that people who perceive their daily commute as lengthy due to development obstacles and socio-economic factors have an increase in stress. Conversely, when people see green spaces (land that has not been developed), they show a great wellbeing and capacity to heal quicker. Nature in general, whether a green space or in fragments, helps reduce stress, improves mood, reduces feelings of anger, and promotes relaxation. Additionally, it is particularly helpful in reducing anxiety, relieving symptoms of depression, and managing ADHD.
Connect With Nature
Whatever you take in from your environment can change how your nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system work, so consider getting a little R&R with nature. Depending on where you live, there are several options to reap the benefits of nature’s therapeutic abilities.
- Look out a window to see the sky, visible trees and plants, and animals. Try it throughout different times of the day.
- Eat, read, journal, exercise, or paint outdoors. You can do this on a balcony, rooftop, patio, backyard, park, beach, or anywhere else outdoors.
- Take a walk around your neighborhood, alone or with a furry friend. Notice the small details such as the different flowers around you, the shape of the clouds, and the sounds critters make.
- Visit a botanical garden or community garden. Take note of the diversity in nature.
- Plant produce in your backyard or help out a community garden with their produce. It is rewarding to watch your hard work unfold as plants grow.
- Grow herbs indoors in a window box or outside. Like produce, it is rewarding to nurture your herb plants and to cook with what you have grown.
- Go fruit picking during fruit picking seasons. It is a joyful activity to share with loved ones.
- Make a flower arrangement for your home. You can pick flowers from flower-picking farms, your backyard, or pick them up from a local grocery store or flower shop.
- Curate a mood board with photos and artwork of nature. Include places on your bucket list. Display it somewhere that you can see it whenever you need a pick-me-up.
- Practice mindfulness. Whether you are out in nature, looking out the window, or in front of an indoor plant, take a moment to notice the sounds, smells, textures, views, and tastes (if edible) around you.
If you are struggling with your mental health, a mental health professional can help guide you in practicing mindfulness techniques in nature. For more information please contact Trauma and Beyond Center ® at 818-351-3511 or visit us at traumaandbeyondcenter.com.