" Maybe you are searching among the branches for what only appears in the roots"
There are many scientifically proven ways that nature, nature immersion and nature exposure have been shown to improve and benefit mental health, and the evidence for this continues to grow.
The prevalence of mental health problems both in the UK and worldwide is huge and is a serious growing problem. In fact Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide and one factor in this is our increasing disconnection with nature (find out how and why a disconnect with nature is damaging our health here). When we talk about mental health conditions, we are referring to conditions that cause changes in our emotions, thinking (thought processes), or behaviours, or a combination of all three. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health condition with an estimated 1 in 10 people affected.
The complexity and individuality of mental health problems means that treatment of them is not a case of one size fits all and people often require a multi-faceted approach to treatment to help relieve and improve their mental health symptoms.
Science is finally recognising that ‘Nature Therapy’, including activities such as forest bathing and cold hydrotherapy, offers an effective and safe method in which to help mental health symptoms, but also offer preventative health benefits too. Using nature as therapy is considered to have a huge potential to become a universal health model for a variety of physical, and mental health ailments in people of all ages.
So How Can Nature Improve Your Mental Health?
Promotes feelings of relaxation and calm
Improves recovery rate from anxiety episodes
Improves cognition, especially in children
Improves concentration & attention spans
Reduces feelings of anger
Lifts and improves mood
Improves self esteem, more so if water is present
Helps manage depression by increasing endorphins
"When one tunes into natures frequency, life becomes change, change becomes hope
Aniekee Ezekiel Tochukwu
Struggling with your Mental Health? Know someone who is?
Then join the ‘Mend Your Mind’ online Course
If you, or someone you know is suffering with depression, anxiety, grief, stress or even low self-esteem, then the ‘Mend Your Mind’ Online Course is made for you!
Learn how to utilise nature to benefit & improve your mental health through 25 scientifically backed nature tasks proven to boost mental health status.
Are you Drowning Under Life's Stresses ?
Everyone at some point in their lives will suffer with stress and if prolonged, it can often feel like you are drowning. Drowning under the pressures of work life, relationship problems, grief, feelings of failure, uncertainty, worry for the future……..and the list goes on.
Although we can’t always control what is going on outside/externally in our life, we can always control what goes on on the inside. Taking control and managing our stress levels is something we can control, and by doing so it will allow us to handle unprecedented situations much better and more healthily.
Suffering stress, especially prolonged stress, is detrimental to health and causes a variety of biological responses in the body. These include increased blood pressure, raised blood sugar levels, raised stress hormone levels of cortisol and adrenaline as well as a faster heart rate, non of which have a positive effect on health in the short or long term.
A 2019 study found that spending just two hours a week in nature, is associated with an overall increase in wellbeing
How YOU Can Use Nature to De-stress
One of the fantastic things about being out in nature is that it utilises ALL our senses. When submerged in a natural and wild environment every one of our senses can be engaged: sight, sound, smell, touch and sometimes even taste too. This allows us to totally tune in and fully embody our senses, which promotes calm and relaxation throughout our entire body. Not many environments can do that like nature can. In fact i cant think of any.
When we really tune into our surroundings in nature, it becomes alive, a living breathing thing, as opposed to an inert object we just happen to be standing in. When you go outside do you listen? I mean really listen? Do you hear the difference in birdsong, the wind in the branches, the rustle of leaves? When you go outside do you see? I mean really see? Do you notice the rain drops balancing on a leaf, a small flower pushing through the earth, the ladybird on a blade of grass?
If you don’t, then make this change, because this is a form of meditation and mindfulness that we know through research positively impacts stress levels and reduces those physiological signs of stress that negatively impact health in the long term. When you are stressed, go into nature and engage your senses. Your body and mind will benefit!
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Science has shown that nature exposure may help improve cognitive skills such as memory, which is especially important as we age when cognitive functions naturally decline. Not only that but when we have mental burnout our ability to focus and pay attention to things is significantly diminished, but nature has been shown to restore this and fix these ‘broken circuits’ in our brain that can lead to mental fatigue.
If you are a ruminator (continuous over thinking), then nature can provide help here too, as studies show that time spent in nature, compared to urban settings, actually reduces rumination and stimulates increased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex of the brain. When this area has little activity, this has been linked to depression and anxiety, two things we know that rumination can lead to.
So next time you feel like your body and brain is craving green space and an escape to the wilds, take note of this calling and head into nature to give your brain a well needed break.
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