by Michelle H.
Finally – at long last – Spring seems to be upon us! And with it comes many great opportunities to get out into nature. Not only is getting out into nature good for our physical health, it’s good for our mental health as well. I’m sure you have all experienced this at one point or another – how going out for a walk, hike, or relaxing under a tree seems to relieve stress, lift the spirit, or provide a bit of perspective on life. Research seems to support this as well – for example, getting out into nature (e.g. parks, wilderness, areas with trees or water) has been linked to increased feelings of well-being, and reduced stress, aggression, and ADHD symptoms. Getting out into nature has also shown benefits at the physiological level, reducing blood pressure and improving immune system functioning. Health professionals have even been starting to act based on this ever-growing body of evidence. For example, some physicians are now prescribing time in nature to their patients.
We’re lucky here in B.C. to have so many opportunities to get out into nature. And for those of us living in more urban areas who may not be so lucky to be close to mountains, lakes, and forests, not to worry! Researchers have shown that nature can be found anywhere – a nearby park by your house, a patch of trees outside your work or school – and even the smallest exposure to nature has been found to be beneficial. If you’re stuck inside and just don’t have the time to get out – or if the rainy weather puts a damper on your motivation to get outside - there are still some things you can do. For example, in addition to actually being in nature, studies show that viewing images of nature also helps to relieve stress and improve well-being. So whether it involves getting out to a lake or mountain, visiting a nearby park or patch of trees, or even downloading a nature-inspired screen saver, getting a regular dose of nature will positively impact your health and wellbeing.
Photo courtesy of wot nxt via Flickr