The average American spends 93% of their life indoors – according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The National Trust, meanwhile, states that children play outside for just four hours a week. This can have serious consequences for your physical health (since America is currently in the midst of an obesity epidemic). Moreover, it can also take its toll on your mental health.
Since spending time in nature wields many benefits, including an ability to battle stress, you may want to spend as much time in the great outdoors as possible.
If you are wondering what nature can do for you, read on to discover the latest scientific findings.
Nature Promotes Peace of Mind
A 2019 study published in the journal Frontiers, found that spending just 20 minutes of your day in a natural setting significantly lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
In the study, participants were asked to take a nature walk or to simply be outside at least three times a week. Scientists measured cortisol levels in their saliva before and after the experiment, finding that 20 minutes was the magic number when it came to causing stress levels to drop. The longer the participants stayed out, however, the more dramatic was the reduction in cortisol.
Make it a Group Walk to Fight Depression
Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System found that one powerful way to stave off depression is to go for a group walk outdoors. In fact, doing so will also enable you to battle stress and enjoy enhanced general mental health.
The study focused on almost 2,000 participants who took part in a group walking program. Researchers noted that walking in natural settings in inexpensive and low-risk, but also very efficient at improving human mental health and wellbeing.
Nature isn’t a One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Studies show that simply contemplating images of nature can have a positive effect on mood; this indicates the vast array of manners in which you can enjoy it.
One practice, called shinrin-yoku (´forest bathing’), started in Japan but is now popular in many parts of the world. It involves visiting a forest setting and opening your sense to all the beautiful sights, sounds, and textures.
Even if you are short on time, you can find your own way to interact with nature. If you ever work from home or simply have a hobby that keeps you indoors, why not do so outdoors?
As noted by Riverwoodcabins.com, even if you have a stressful job, working in an outdoor workspace filled with natural wood and overlooking natural scenery, is far different from working indoors with artificial light and nothing much to view except your computer and four walls surrounding you.
Take Your Kids Along
Do you have children and want to ensure that their childhood involves playtime outdoors? Make time for family events at a nearby park, forest, or other scenic areas.
One study by scientists at the University of Illinois found that kids with ADHD who regularly played outside surrounded by grass and trees, had significantly milder symptoms than those who played indoors or in built environments.
Another study undertaken by Hong Kong researchers found that a connection to nature lessens distress and hyperactivity in kids.
Nature has been found to enhance focus and enhance work productivity. It is also a powerful stress buster, so try to bring the activities you love or need to do outside.
Even a few minutes a day in the Great Outdoors can make a big difference to your mental health and wellbeing. Being outside also keeps kids active, enhances their concentration, and helps them battle obesity.