Spending time outdoors has proven wellbeing benefits from boosting your mood to reducing your blood pressure. According to a recent UK study those who spend two hours per week in natural environments – whether it’s a national park or your local park – are more likely to report good physical and mental health than those that don’t.
In a crazy last year that has forced us to bunker down at home, getting outside for a dose of nature has never been more important says Maz Miller a performance psychologist who specialises in walk-and-talk therapy.
For some the risks for depression are isolation, fear, heightened emotional state, catastrophising and feelings of helplessness about the future. A pandemic does tick all those boxes she said. “A simple way to counter this is to get outside and go for a walk. Even if your waving at others at a distance, it will still have a positive impact on your mental health.
As this pandemic goes on the call of nature grows stronger, here are some of the benefits you can reap from embracing the great outdoors.
Can you find a leafy spot nearby? Green spaces are known to add to better mental health, sleep and physical activity. Also, studies suggest may reduce heart disease, high blood pressure & diabetes. The link between green space and health is particularly strong with a tree canopy. Even in built up areas green spaces such as nature reserves, parks and tree lined streets offer a connection to wildlife, cooling shade in summer and a visual respite from man made structures. The accumulation of these experiences in nature can help distract us from sources of stress, improve cognition and sleep quality, lead to increased physical activity, and keep us out of hospital says Associate Professor Feng.
Wild At Heart
There’s a reason spending time in the outdoors feels so relaxing. Nature and green spaces subtly calm our senses says Maz.
One Japanese study found that sitting or walking in a forest setting significantly reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as blood pressure and heart rate. At the same time parasympathetic nervous system increased, indicating a relaxed state. Even a view from a window has been associated with lower stress and higher job satisfaction among office workers.
It simply feels good in the natural world.