Mental Health & Nature
Environmental stressors produced by climate change can negatively impact our mental health. Spending at least two hours per week in nature can significantly increase the health benefits and well-being of every individual. Evidence suggests that individuals who spend more time in nature and natural environments, such as parks, woodlands, and beaches, report having consistently higher levels of health and well-being than those with no exposure to the outdoors.
Much of our daily lives are spent indoors, staring at a computer, sitting through meetings in windowless rooms, getting stuck in rush hour traffic, and winding down in front of the TV screen at the end of our long day. Taking the time to connect with nature can alleviate mental fatigue, allowing our mind to relax and recharge. Outside landscapes can provide a calming space to restore our ability to focus and ground ourselves in the moment, which can improve our work performance and boost our levels of satisfaction. Many outdoor activities have been proven to alleviate symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety, while enhancing cognitive functioning and creativity.
“Making time to reconnect to nature – particularly in Colorado Springs, and surrounding areas, with our amazing views of Pikes Peak, green spaces and parks, and in-city trail accessibility – offers a chance to slow down and take a mental break,” says Tory Miller, Manager of the Adult Outpatient Program at Diversus Health. “This rejuvenating experience is enhanced when we practice mindfulness, as well as connecting to a place of gratitude for the beauty of our surroundings. Stepping outside, taking a breath, and connecting to nature is a great use of a free resource for improved mental health.”
If you’re curious about ways to reconnect with nature for your mental health, check out our list of ideas to get started:
1. Open Your Windows
If you cannot get outside, open your curtains, pull up the blinds, and crack open your window to let some natural light and fresh air pour into your room. Even while indoors, you can still connect with nature by surrounding yourself with a beautiful view and gazing out.
2. Get Outside
Instead of spending your lunch hour inside, take a walk, visit a local park, or make an afternoon picnic on a blanket in the grass. Making a commitment to get outside will give you the fresh air and daylight you need to recharge after a busy morning.
3. Find an Outdoor Hobby
Rather than plugging into the television at the end of your day, try participating in a fun outdoor hobby. Take your dog for a walk, join a local volleyball league, or watch the sunset over the mountains.
4. Take a Hike
Integrate more nature into your life by exploring new places. Scope out a local hiking spot and take an adventure to see some new sites. Take advantage of the beautiful nature trails in our mountain community.
5. Test Your Green Thumb
Whether indoors or outside, growing or caring for plants can help you cultivate a healthy connection to nature. Start a garden, plant some flowers, or find a potted plant for your workspace.
6. Add Nature to Your Office
Research finds that sunlight and natural elements in our workspace may improve our overall mood and job satisfaction. The presence of plants in our office has been shown to increase kindness and helpful behavior, as well as improve our mental health and well-being.
Take a positive step for your mental health and well-being by getting outside today.
*If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health challenge, request an appointment with one of our providers at Diversus Health today. If you need immediate assistance, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, or text ‘TALK’ to 38255.