Due to COVID-19, many people were forced to isolate and stay in their homes unless they have to go to work or run important errands. This really helped protect lives and flatten the curve of the virus activity, but it also causes a huge impact on human mental health. Luckily, if you want to improve your mood and general mental state, you can still go out, but not downtown but straight to nature. There’s no worry that you’ll catch a virus in the forest and you can enjoy freedom and movement as much as you like. No matter if you choose to go for longer hikes, camping or just spend your afternoon at the park, here’s how spending time in nature can improve your mental health:
Nature reduces stress
Stress is not always a bad thing. Many beneficial stressors can keep you away from danger and make sure you’re responsible, but other stressors can fill your life with dread and sadness. The world is a place full of stress with more than 50% of all people in the west reporting high daily stress levels. But, just a short outing in nature (20-30 minutes) can reduce stress. Even spending time in your own backyard can lower stress levels, reduce cortisol levels, relieve muscle tension and boost mood.
Fresh air and sun boost mood
Some elements of the outside can’t be replicated in your home. For instance, direct sunlight and fresh air are only found when you step out of the house, and these two elements carry countless benefits for humans. Vitamin D from the sun can improve mood and do wonders for stress relief and self-esteem. According to research, human brains produce more serotonin when the weather outside is sunny, no matter the temperature. Serotonin is a hormone that naturally stabilizes mood and helps reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and sadness. UV light also encourages the production of endorphins, the happiness chemical.
Nature helps with depression
Spending time outside, especially in nature surrounded by trees, natural smells and sounds, can reduce anxiety and depression. So if you have time, set one weekend aside to go camping every once in a while. This is a safe activity in the time of Covid so you can grab your family and close friends and have a fun outing. For a short camping trip, you only need a tent, some food and water and one or two gadgets. It’s smart to have durable automatic knives for everyone in your party so people can feel safe and have a tool that will make their trip easier. With nothing but a knife, you can prepare food, build shelter, clear out your site and stay safe from predators. During your trip and long after you return, you will feel reborn.
It might boost your self-esteem
Doing different things in nature with your friends and loved ones can do wonders for your self-esteem. This effect grows even stronger when you spend time near water or in the forest. It’s easy to find natural trails, spots for fishing and areas where you can look at insects, birds and fish. All of these nature activities require physical movement that is great for confidence as well. If you manage to catch a fish, hike very far, climb a peak or spot a rare bird, your sense of accomplishment will grow and give you a great confidence boost.
Nature helps with the grieving
The grief process is painful and long for many, but nature can help here as well. Exposure to nature can allow you to cope with changes better, improve self-awareness and positively affect your mood. With your mood being lifted, you will also treat others better. When exposed to different forms of nature, people usually exhibit more caring and positive emotions.
It helps with sleep
Many people today have trouble sleeping. However, this can be fixed with only one long walk in the woods—it’s proven to improve sleep quality and quantity and relieve sleep issues. Camping can be a great way to fix your circadian rhythm since it allows you to sleep away from artificial light and wake up with sunlight.
It might positively affect ADHD
According to research, children with ADHD focus better during or after spending time outside. It’s not clear whether this applies to adults as well, but if you struggle with focus, practicing an outdoor activity might help. However, specialists and parents notice that spending more time in nature for kids translates to better focus. On the other hand, lack of time spent in nature can harm kids’ physical and mental health and alienate kids from nature.
All in all, today, it’s more important to spend time in nature than ever before, mainly because we have so little contact with it. But it’s easy to boost your outdoor time, so visit your local park, take a walk in the nearby woods, go hiking with friends, take up fishing, start gardening, etc. Nature is present all around us, we just need to access it consciously and reap many benefits.