Feeling Stressed? Hug A Tree

 

Studies have long shown how interacting with nature helps to improve mood and reduce stress. As a result, many big cities have begun repurposing old, unused spaces into pocket parks, trails and other green space. With so much nature in your vicinity, there’s no reason not to interact with it on a daily basis. Taking walks, watching wildlife and other outdoor activities can go a long way toward improving your mood, your self-esteem and your overall well-being. If you want an instant boost that costs nothing, take a step outside and interact with the natural world. 

Modern Day People Are Disconnected From Nature

With all of the technology at our disposal and schedules that are jam packed, there is no reason to leave the house. However, by cutting ourselves off from the outdoors, we are adding to our collective stress. Researchers from Carelton University in Ottawa, Ontario in Canada recently conducted a study on nature deprivation and its effects on people. According to the study, “In two experiments, we found that although outdoor walks in nearby nature made participants much happier than indoor walks did, participants made affective forecasting errors, such that they systematically underestimated nature’s hedonic benefit.” 

Interaction With Nature Has Physical and Psychological Benefits

Being in chaotic, unpleasant environments can cause a stressful reaction in the body. The University of Minnesota explored the relationship of nature and health, stating, “Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.”

Being In Nature Helps You Take a Break

Another benefit to being in nature is that it provides natural stimuli, such as trees and animals. Experts have suggested that these stimuli help our brain focus on something other than stress and that spending time in nature can act like a mini vacation from your everyday life. An article published by the National Institutes of Health states, “Other important features of restorative environments identified by ART include the experience of being away, in which a person feels a sense of escape from the stressful demands of daily life, and extent, in which a perception of vastness, and connectedness in an environment helps promote related experiences of ‘being away.’” 

It Doesn’t Take A Lot of Time

To reap the benefits of the great outdoors, it doesn’t take much exposure. Something as simple as taking a 30 minute walk outside can benefit you. Many people cite lack of time as a reason for not getting outside, but there are ways to sneak nature time into your routine. Use your break time at work to sneak outside and stroll through a park. When taking the kids to the playground, put your phone away, and take some time to interact with your surroundings. Watch the birds or feed the ducks (if permitted) while you’re keeping an eye on the kids. In the winter, simply taking advantage of base layers will keep you warm while you’re outside. You can also interact with nature by snowshoeing, snowboarding or skiing. 

Connecting with the great outdoors does wonders for your physical and psychological health. By clearing time from your schedule to get outside and play, you can vastly improve your stress levels and become more relaxed. Find a trail or park near your home, and make a regular date to hang out.