This blog post originally appeared on Caitlin Crowe's website.
Spending time in nature is one of the most intuitive methods of positively impacting one’s mood and overall mindset. However, regardless of just how natural this method appears, it does not seem as though many people turn to exploring the great outdoors when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Perhaps this is because they simply do not have the time to do so, what with their hectic work schedules and familial commitments that may consume their entire weekends. Or, perhaps it is because they are skeptical of all the benefits fresh air and sunshine genuinely hold.
Regardless, let us take some time to clarify just how spending time in nature can improve your physical and mental health.
Nature provides a calming escape
It is no secret that individuals who live in Westernized countries are inundated with feelings of stress and anxiety, both work-related and otherwise, and some do not feel as though they are equipped with the tools necessary to cope with and ultimately escape their stressors.
However, recent studies have shown that individuals who walk for as little as 20 minutes through an urban park or wooded area reported significantly lower stress levels than those who spent time wandering through a crowded city. Seeing as one does not have to commit hours-long chunks of their time in order to feel the refreshing benefits of the outdoors, perhaps more people will feel inclined to incorporate short nature walks into their daily schedules.
Nature refines our ability to focus
A 2010 health letter from Harvard Medical School noted that our lack of focus often stems from our propensity to remain indoors all day, whether because of work or poor weather conditions. If we were to spend more time outdoors, though, we would see almost instantaneous positive results.
After all, observing plants, water, birds and other animals, rather than our usual, blue-light-emanating devices, gives the cognitive portion of our brains a rest, leaving us feeling refreshed, renewed, and more patient than before.
Nature sparks inspiration
It is no coincidence that a number of the world’s most famous pieces of art were inspired by nature — from Van Gogh’s “Irises” and Monet’s “Water Lilies” to Georgia O’Keeffe’s “From the White Palace.” So, if you ever find yourself struggling to come up with your next creative project, combat writer’s block, or simply find the motivation to press through the remainder of your work day, spending a bit of time outdoors may be the solution you are searching for.
Evidently, nature wields greater benefits than just a nice view. Ensure you are taking every opportunity to get outdoors and refresh and revitalize your senses. Trust me, you will not regret it.