Nature for Well-Being

Now, more than ever, is the time to concentrate on your wellbeing and mental health. You may not be able to go and do the things you used to be able to do to lift your spirits such as meeting up with friends, but the world is still out there, however strange it feels right now.

With many people working from home behind a screen, watching TV or constantly scrolling through social media, it can be easy to forget that anything exists behind our four walls. But, whilst the internet has been a saviour for many, helping us stay in touch with friends and family, many scientists believe our brains really do not like the bombardment of content we are hit with as soon as we open our much loved social media apps.

Do you find yourself scrolling with no real outcome but to leave you feeling fatigued, overwhelmed and often much worse than when you started? If so, studies suggest that it’s time to put tech in its place and get outside

Back to Nature…

Many studies have looked into the effect that being in nature has on our mental health and overall wellness. Researchers found that being outdoors in nature plays a key role in managing emotions such as frustration, anger, anxiety and feelings of loneliness.  and can increase feelings of calmness, mindfulness, happiness, self-esteem and life satisfaction. With physical distancing happening right now, just getting out into nature, and seeing others do the same, may help with feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Going for a walk in a green space, strolling through a park or woodlands, or hiking a mountain,  might do wonders for you if lockdown is leaving you feeling cooped up and hemmed in.

What does the research say?

* Those who went for a walk in nature reported less anxiety and rumination than those who went for a walk in a city setting. The former group also performed better on memory tasks.

*Researchers believe that walking in nature can help with creativity and has a restorative effect upon attention, which in turn improves cognitive tasks. * A study from Japan found that forest walks helped to lower heart rate, stress, calm anxiety and increase heart rate variability in a group of participants.* Another research experiment found that participants shown a stress inducing film, followed by nature scenes, recovered quicker emotionally than those who were shown urban scenes post film.

This is all well and good if you live in the countryside but what if you live in a city? Research has even found that even looking outside the window to a green space, a tree or even having plants in the room can help with feelings of healthfullness. It has been found that even for those who live in cities, finding a park, garden or body of water to spend time in can enhance wellbeing.

Mindfulness in Nature…

Green spaces such as woods, forests and parks provide us with a multisensory experience. We feel the wind on our face, the grass beneath our feet, the smell of pine trees and flowers and the noise of the birds or the rustling of leaves. Paying attention to these sights, smells and sounds, technology free, can allow us to focus on the moment and really be in the here and now. You can, if it’s something you are into, incorporate a style of meditation known as walking meditation, or think of your daily stroll in the woods as what the Japanese call ‘Forest Bathing’. Anything that brings about mindfulness and relaxation while you connect with nature.

We all know exercise is good for mental and physical health, having an open space to walk, run or cycle may greatly improve feelings of wellbeing, but even just a stroll in nature may help you relax.

Nature is a fantastic resource that is completely free! Why not see how you feel when you take more time to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature.

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