Anyone who has ever taken a walk through the woods, or on a beach, or even through the park, knows the feeling of relaxation that overcomes them. Many may not know, however, that there is a significant positive impact on mental health with exposure to nature. Anyone experiencing mental health issues should always seek help from medical experts, like those at Aspire Counseling Services. However, there are also other steps they can take to help themselves, steps into nature.
A 2013 study published in Environmental Science & Technology, showed the positive impact of nature images on stress reduction. Participants viewed slides of either nature images or man-made environments prior to completion of mentally stressful tasks. Those who viewed the nature scenes had higher parasympathetic nervous system activity. This is the branch of the nervous system that allows the body to “rest and digest” and balances against the sympathetic “fight or flight” branch. The more awe inspiring the scene, the higher the parasympathetic nervous system activity.
According to a Pennsylvania study published in Scientific American in 2012, surgery patients in rooms with window views of trees recovered faster with less pain medication than those with views of brick walls. Additionally, those patients with photographs of nature on the walls reported less pain and anxiety than those with abstract art in their rooms. It only took three to five minutes of views with trees, flowers, and water to relax the patients and reduce anger, anxiety, and pain. Being surrounded by nature helped these patients to improve their mental health which allowed them to heal faster.
Most of us cannot just take a nature walk whenever we need some stress or anxiety relief. Aspire Counseling Services wants you to know there are other ways to become one with nature.
- Spend time outdoors as much as possible
- Morning coffee on porch or patio
- Lunch in the park or outside by a tree
- Daily walks in the park
- Work outside or by a window when possible
- Create your own nature environment
- Houseplants at work and home
- Nature photographs at work and home
- Watch nature videos daily
- Use landscape screensavers and backgrounds
- Meditate to nature sounds
Spending time in nature will not cure all mental health issues, there is still the need for expert help from the doctors and counselors at Aspire Counseling Services. However, becoming one with nature will improve your symptoms of anxiety and stress, and leave you feeling more relaxed and mentally strong enough to face your symptoms and improve your wellness.
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