A lot of the time we think that nature must be good for our health and happiness. The benefits of nature are well documented, whether it is the physical benefits, such as reduced stress, lower blood pressure or lower heart rate, or the benefits of improved mental health.
Amongst other things we were only able to visit our local parks and nature areas during COVID-19. When we are surrounded by nature, we can increase our engagement with ourselves and the natural world.
Sitting in a natural environment gives you an opportunity of mindfully witnessing all that is around you – the birds, the water, leaves falling or bees buzzing around. Engaging with nature seems to mediate the relationship between nature and happiness. This engagement with the environment encourages us all to feel a sense of connectedness, happiness, and satisfaction.
Does nature impact happiness? A study conducted by University of Derby and various wildlife trusts has explored this question. Named “30 Days Wild”, the study asked participants to “do something wild” every day for 30 consecutive days. Participants were also asked to take part in a survey about their interactions with nature and how they felt about their health and happiness.
The study showed a scientifically significant increase in people’s health, happiness and connection to nature throughout the challenge and in the following months. Additionally, people increased the number of their outdoors-related behaviours and the number of people who reported their health as “excellent” increased by 30%.
How can nature benefit my mental health?
Doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals can have lots of positive effects. It can:
- improve your mood
- reduce feelings of stress or anger
- help you take time out and feel more relaxed
- improve your physical health
- improve your confidence and self-esteem
- help you be more active
- help you make new connections
- provide peer support.
If you’re walking in the woods or through a park, chances are there are fewer sensory distractions like cars, flashing lights, and industrial smelliness. This will automatically improve your health and mental well being!
Let me know how nature has improved your happiness in the comments!