April 13, 2022

Nature Heals

Samuel

When's the last time you left your city and went into nature? If you've never been outside the city, when's the last time you went to a park? Do you remember feeling happier afterwards, or more clear-headed? 

 

Often our weekends get filled with errands or work, and sometimes we're just too tired from the week to go anywhere. But it turns out that feeling of relaxation you might have felt at the park was not a one-time thing. Getting outdoors may take more motivation than relaxing at home, but it's actually an important way to take care of ourselves and those around us.  

 

A growing body of research supports the idea that exposure to nature improves several aspects of mental health, especially attention. Just as our smartphones worsen our attention span with short videos and continuous scrolling, exposure to nature can restore our attention abilities.  

 

Studies have found that when walking through nature, our brains create activity which resembles meditation. You may have heard about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. This meditative state may be a result of feeling more connected to our bodies in nature. The studies also found that long after we go back inside, this meditation activity continues in our brain.  

 

So, if you're going through a season of depression or if you've been feeling especially anxious or worried, one of the best things to do for your mental health is go outside. Go on a walk at a park or even just sit under the shade of a big tree. On the weekends, find a nearby lake to go fishing or an open space to go hiking. It may take time but eventually, nature heals.  

  

Sources:  

Bailey, A., et al. (2018). Cognitive Benefits of walking in natural versus built environments. World Leisure Journal, Vol 60, NO. 4, 293-30.  

Ives, C. D., Giusti, M., Fischer, J., Abson, D. J., Klaniecki, K., Dorninger, C., ... & Von Wehrden, H. (2017). Human–nature connection: a multidisciplinary review. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 26, 106-113. 

Ohly, H., White, M. P., Wheeler, B. W., Bethel, A., Ukoumunne, O. C., Nikolaou, V., & Garside, R. (2016). Attention Restoration Theory: A systematic review of the attention restoration potential of exposure to natural environments. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, 19(7), 305-343 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Samuel is a psychology intern at Thaddeus Homework Hotspot. He's a third-year undergraduate studying cognitive science and enjoys baking and pick-up basketball in his free time.