A hike through dense bushland might not sound like a relaxing or calming experience, but a growing amount of research has suggested spending time in nature can improve your mental health.
- A growing amount of research suggests spending time in nature can improve your mental health
- Studies also show that just watching nature videos can increase positive emotions
- Spending time in marine environments can also help reduce stress
Whether it is a quick stroll through your local park or going for a dip in the ocean, studies suggest it can have a restorative effect on our minds.
“It also tends to increase perceptions of feelings of well-being,” said Shauna Jones, senior manager of health and community activation for Parks Victoria.
Since the mid 2000s, Parks Victoria has investigated the health benefits of spending time in nature as part of its Healthy Parks, Healthy People program.
Its latest commissioned literature review of the health benefits of parks and natural spaces by Deakin University found access and proximity to safe, high-quality parks improved mental health.
While finding time for a daily trek in your national park can be tricky, there are other ways to increase the amount of nature in your life.
A 2009 study by Stephan Mayer and colleagues published in the journal Environment And Behaviour found that even just watching videos of natural or urban settings could increase connectedness to nature and positive emotions.
Ms Jones suggested finding nature pictures for wallpapers or screensavers for your computer at home and work.
“We’ve got some beautiful screensavers rolling through on our computers here at Parks Victoria, which is pretty lovely,” she said.
Grow your own
If just watching nature isn’t enough, why not grow it yourself.
Studies had shown that being able to see green plants had a restorative benefit, Ms Jones said.
If you need to feel the fresh air on your face, try finding daily activities that can take you outside and into nature.
A survey by Parks Victoria found that 64 per cent of people said they did most of their exercise indoors — despite almost 80 per cent of people reporting that being in nature improved their mental health.
While Ms Jones accepted that the weather, safety concerns and access to green spaces could be barriers, she said moving your daily exercise outside could make a difference.
Spending time in nature is not just limited to parks or forests.
“We actually can get benefits from all different types of nature,” Ms Jones said.
“That might even be walking out onto a pier, on a bay or a harbour.
Disconnecting in the surf
The health benefits of spending time outside can even help those dealing with more serious stress-related mental health issues.
Soldier On, a veteran support group, runs several programs within a natural setting, including surfing and kayaking classes.
Cathy Starling, its national programs manager for social connection, said the natural setting helped the veterans relax.
“They’ve just been able to really let go for the time that they’re embracing the outdoors or getting into nature,” she said.
“Unfortunately, for a lot of the veterans that we do work with, they might have experienced trauma from their time overseas or on deployment, and so there may be quite a few triggers in the social urban environment.
- Why Are Middle Eastern Girls Crushing Boys in School?
- Seven Wellness Design-Inspired Pro Tips For Your Work From Home Space
- The New Populist Playbook
- Rishi Sunak told to 'check the manifesto' after urging young people to return to the office
Feel blue? See green: How spending time in nature can improve your mental health have 684 words, post on www.abc.net.au at October 9, 2019. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.