Simple Ways To Connect With Nature For Improved Mental Health

Natural way to improve mental health

If you feel stressed by being trapped in an office, or seeing concrete all around you, you’re not alone. Research suggests that one of the causes of increased stress in our society is a lack of connection to nature.

For centuries, our ancestors lived their lives at one with nature. If you’re looking for improved mental health, you may need to reestablish that connection.

How Nature Improves Wellbeing

Intuitively, we know that nature makes us feel at peace. Researchers have noted several specific benefits of being in nature:

  • Improved Mental Health. If you’ve ever felt relieved after taking a breath of fresh air, you know that being in nature decreases stress. Scientists say that nature can also improve memory and our ability to adapt and focus.
  • Emotional Wellbeing. Being present in nature can help us feel like we’re part of something greater. It can help us establish a spiritual connection with the world around us. This connection helps many people gain a greater sense of purpose in life. It also contributes to an overall increase in happiness.
  • Better Physical Health. Doing outdoor activities like hiking or running can help improve your physical health. Being in nature also contributes to emotional wellbeing, which is one of the key components to living a healthier and longer life.

Why We Need Nature

What is it about being in nature that leads to improved mental health? Scientists have come up with a few different hypotheses. One hypothesis says that since our ancestors evolved in nature, we have the drive to connect with it.

Others hypothesize that nature may trigger a physiological response that lowers stress levels. A third common hypothesis is called attention restoration theory. This theory says that nature replenishes our mental energy.

How to Connect With Nature

It can be hard to feel connected with nature when you spend most of your time indoors. These strategies can help you connect with the natural world.

Visit the Great Outdoors

As a kid growing up in a coastal city, I had a strong connection to the sea. Trips to the beach were a staple of my childhood. Playing in the sand, feeling the sun on my shoulders and the salty water on my lips. After moving away, I realized that I missed that connection with the natural world.

So, every time I take a trip to the beach, I’m able to get back to this primal feeling of being embraced by nature.

What natural environment gives you that sense of peace? Whether it’s a campground or a mountain slope, visit it often to disconnect and immerse yourself in the warm embrace of nature.

Surround Yourself with Nature

It’s important to connect to nature every day. Think of any natural elements around you. It could be your backyard, a nearby park, or even the trees you notice on the street. Try getting outside to connect with these every day.

You can also bring nature inside. Look for some plants or an aquarium that will fit in your space. Notice the connection that develops as you tend to your little bits of nature.

Notice Your Environment

There’s nothing like the feeling of being fully immersed in a natural environment. Noticing the way that tree bark feels, or the warmth of the sun on your face. In order to fully connect to your environment, try practicing mindfulness. Take notice of the small details around you. How does that blade of grass feel? What can you smell?

As you build a relationship with the world around you, notice how it makes you feel. Take time to appreciate the grounding feeling that comes with connecting to nature. As time goes on, you’ll start to notice improved mental health and a greater sense of peace.

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