Why Nature Makes Us Feel Better
May is one of the most beautiful times of year across the USA. Coincidentally, it’s also National Health Month. Enjoying nature has been proven to help our mental health in many ways. The complicated nature of our relationship with the world around us has been studied for a very long time. There are still many mysteries around why being in nature makes us feel good, but we have gained some insights.
Disclaimer: If you are struggling with mental health issues, please contact a professional immediately.
Being in nature decreases stress. Experiments show that walking in nature as opposed to urban areas decreases blood pressure and heart rate. Not only is the physical and scientific evidence there, but we can actually feel the difference. One Texas study shows that participants reportedly experienced lower stress levels after simply viewing video and audio recordings of nature sounds. One simple way to incorporate this into your daily life is to change around your interior design. If you work from home, move your desk to face a window with a view of nature. Even a yard will do!
Nature increases happiness and creativity. This has been proven by studying which parts of the brain are used when participating in different activities and tasks. An experiment where participants walked in nature showed “increased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain whose deactivation is affiliated with depression and anxiety—a finding that suggests nature may have important impacts on mood.” The same experiment showed that the inverse is also true, that urbanization is associated with higher rates of mental illness, including depression. Another study showed hikers increased ability to complete puzzles after four days hiking in nature, and proved the correlation by looking at what parts of their brains were activated.
Being in nature makes us feel connected to the world around us. Is nature an important part of who you are? If so, you’re probably a happy person. The concept of how we emotionally connect to our natural world is called “nature relatedness”. Having a high nature relatedness level correlates with having a high happiness level.
Mental Health Resources:
3 Ways to Save the Planet – Nature.org