The Benefits of Nature on Mental Health

The Benefits of Nature on Mental Health

Here at LOWA, we’re huge advocates for people spending more time exploring the outside world! There’s so much to discover for all ages and abilities, from breathtaking mountain ascents that test your fitness, to those precious moments spent with family walking in your local area.

We’ve talked extensively before about how even a little extra time spent outside can help you both mentally and physically. There is now plenty of research to support the long-held belief that being surrounded by nature can help to create more positivity in your life.

Read our blog on benefits to spending time in nature.

In this post, we look a little bit closer at the specific benefits to mental health you can experience by adding a bit more nature into your daily or weekly routine.

More Nature Can Reduce Depression

One of the most significant benefits of spending more time in nature is the effect it can have against depression. Lots of research has gone into proving that interacting with the natural world can have a tangible impact on the symptoms of depression. Multiple studies, for example, have shown that people living similar lifestyles in natural regions are less likely to suffer from depression compared to those living in urban areas.

There are lots of factors that contribute to feelings of depression, including those listed below. Research has shown that more time in a natural landscape can have a positive impact against many of these factors, reducing the overall feeling of depression in people.

Physical Exercise

One major factor that helps nature support people with depression is how it promotes physical activity. Even something as simple as walking to a park or along a trail can produce endorphins which help to create positive feelings in the body.

Nature Calms Anxiety

Anxiety, like many of the things mentioned here, is something that can affect anyone at any time. Thankfully, we now know many little tricks that can help to combat feelings of anxiety, and nature can also play a part in this.

As with depression, simply being outside can help promote physical activity, which not only produces endorphins but can also help to distract the mind. Research has also linked the quiet serenity of detached natural spaces with helping to promote feelings of calm.

Ecotherapy

This knowledge about the positive impact of outside activity has led to the increasing popularity of ecotherapy for combating anxiety and depression. Ecotherapy refers to doing an activity in a natural environment and is usually organised by a therapist that understands the benefits that can be gained from such a practice. Even little things like drawing, reading or meditating in a natural environment have been proven to reduce short and medium-term feelings of anxiety.

A book in a natural environment with leaves and grass

Nature Helps Improve Sleep Patterns

Something that people often forget but is vitally important when it comes to mental health is sleep. It’s crucial to not only get enough rest every day but also to ensure we are getting it at regular times, as this can impact the quality of our sleep.

One of the most significant factors other than exercise when it comes to sleep patterns is natural light. Our bodies still use light to decide when we should be sleeping or not, which is why it plays a role in the effects of jet lag.

Spending more time in a natural light environment can help your body prepare for sleep more effectively, which leads to a better quality of sleep and a fresher mind the next day!

A forest in the UK with purple flowers.

Nature Promotes Social Interaction

Of course, this can depend on what kind of natural activity you do, but in many cases, simply being outside can help promote more social interaction. The social aspect is a big part of many ecotherapy sessions, as people tend to open up more when in a relaxed, natural environment compared to the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Research has shown that adding more socialising into our daily and weekly routines can help to improve our overall mental health. Much in the same way as physical activity, social interaction can occupy the mind, helping to reduce anxiety, while positive interactions can produce feelings of joy. Also, talking about our mental health can be a gateway to helping overcome more long-standing mental health issues.

Two people walking through the countryside at sunset with LOWA footwear.

The power of the natural world is often underrated. With the support of healthcare professionals and a long-term routine, spending more time exploring the wonders of the outside world can help to improve your mental strength!

At LOWA, we love helping people get out and explore for the first time. We have a range of men’s and women’s lightweight hiking boots for sale, perfect for all terrains. If you would like help with finding the ideal outdoor footwear, get in touch with our team who will be happy to help!

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