The Mental Health Benefits of Nature Exposure

The Mental Health Benefits of Nature Exposure

Tori Rodriguez, MA, LPC writes about the benefits in this article for Psychiatry Advisor:

psychiatryadvisor.com/mood-...

"As humans become less connected with nature, we lose an essential health buffer. “There is mounting evidence that contact with nature has significant positive impacts on mental health,” said Mardie Townsend, PhD, an honorary professor at the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University in Australia.

“It is associated with reduced levels of stress — which also has huge ramifications for physical health, reduced levels of depression and anxiety, increased resilience, increased engagement with learning for children and adolescents otherwise disengaged from the education system, improved self-esteem and increased capacity to engage socially,” she told Psychiatry Advisor.

Such effects have been found for not only being immersed in nature — like in the woods or a park — but also for looking out the window at natural scenes and even simply looking at photos of them.

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In a 2015 study, people who looked at scenes of awe-inspiring nature (grand mountain ranges and giant waterfalls, for example) had an even greater increase in mood than those who viewed “mundane” nature scenes such as parks and gardens. The awe-inspiring scenes also encouraged a more pro-social value orientation among participants.

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The sounds of nature appear to have similar benefits, according to a 2013 study showing that hearing recorded sounds from nature had similar effects on recovery from a stressful situation as the study involving nature images. As for time in the outdoors, researchers from Nippon Medical School in Japan compared the effects of walking through a forest versus walking through a city. Their results show that “forest bathing,” as they call it, not only led to decreased stress hormones, but actually increased the natural killer cells of the immune system and the expression of anti-cancer proteins."

We've had some awe-inspiring nature (grand mountain ranges and giant waterfalls) photos this year. While I'm happy to keep providing Australian nature photos, but there's a severe lack of "grand mountain ranges and giant waterfalls" where I live, so those of you that are better situated in that regard, please share!!

Neil

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  • Hi Neil,

    Do you have a link to this article mentioned?

    Thanks

  • Sorry, I did mean to include the link, which is there now :) .

  • Thanks Neil for the article and information about bettering our mental health and lessening our stress levels.

    I have long been an advocate of getting out there with nature and enjoying the scenery and views. My dog and I love both the countryside and the seaside and beaches. Each day we walk about five or six miles through open countryside, across farm land (with permission), and along the river tow passes. It really does help clear the mind and ease any stress you have. It's like another world away from the noise and pace of modern urban living. The dog and I will sometimes sit under an oak tree for shade and have some water and perhaps an apple to share, or she will swim with the ducks whilst I feed them with my feet dangling in the water. Just walking and throwing a ball or stick to keep my dog amused is fun and very good exercise. It works two fold for me because I also have heart failure and this sort of exercise is highly recommended along with swimming.

    I couldn't agree more with the article about the benefits of connecting with nature and alleviating anxiety, stress, and even depression.

    Sorry, don't have any grand mountain ranges or giant waterfalls in my part of the UK, but we do have some nice shore lines, river, and countryside scenery, will see what I can do in future.

    Kevin - Harlow, Essex, UK

  • Thanks Kevin, for painting so well in words your country walks. I really enjoyed reading of your relaxing experiences and I'm sure many others will too. Can't wait to see your photos.

    Neil

  • Thanks Neil. I'm assuming you can't include photo's within a reply, only in posts, is this correct? If so I had better think up a post in the future and include the photo there.

    Kevin - Harlow, Essex, UK

  • You're quite right Kevin, so you'll have to put on your thinking cap the next time you are cooling your feet in the water - or you could ask a question :) .

  • Hi even though I live in the London area I also live close to a natural forest. Every week I and others walk for about an hour. It's called walk for health. I would encourage everyone to do the same. Today it was spectacular with its autumn colours. You don't need any special equipment just get out there you won't regret it. Best wishes

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