Children who care deeply about Mother Nature will naturally want to protect her. But, this understanding and stewardship can only be developed through hands-on experience with the natural world.
Even looking at images of nature can improve our performance on a task that requires attention, like clicking buttons. Researchers showed students a nature video while they performed a boring computer game and found that those who looked at the tree-filled scene made fewer mistakes.
Boosts Your Mood
From a walk in the park to hiking in the woods, spending time outdoors has been linked to improved focus and mood, lower stress, higher energy, and a reduced risk of psychiatric disorders. While most research has looked at green spaces like parks and forests in Luxury Serengeti Safari, researchers are now studying the benefits of blue areas such as ocean and river views.
In a recent survey, researchers found that people who spent more than two hours a week in nature reported significantly more significant health and well-being. However, many groups, including women, older people, and disabled people, are less likely to experience these benefits because they have difficulty accessing nature and may feel unsafe in natural spaces. Ecotherapy, which uses character to support mental health and well-being, could help address these barriers.
A growing body of research demonstrates that being outdoors helps to relieve stress. But what makes the difference? The answer is likely multifaceted.
Physiologically, studies have shown that spending time in nature can decrease your heart rate and blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Psychologically, exposure to nature has been found to reduce a person’s perceived burden of everyday life demands and increase their sense of personal control.
Researchers are now investigating what factors influence these outcomes to help more people reap the benefits of nature. Specifically, they are looking at whether the level of soul (wilderness-type, municipal park, or urban green space) influences self-reported and biometrically measured stress reduction. They’re also studying how different activities in natural settings may impact those outcomes.
Helps You Sleep Better
It can be tempting to huddle up on the couch with a good book or binge-watch some Netflix as the days get shorter and the nights longer. But instead, you should make a habit of sleeping outdoors.
Scientists have found that limiting screen time and getting outside can significantly improve sleep quality. One study even found that exposure to nature can have the same therapeutic effects as certain medications.
The word “nature” is widely defined as the physical world, including the things surrounding human beings—and, in some cases, the entire universe, ranging from the subatomic to the cosmic. It includes living organisms and their components (cells, plants, fungi, taxa), inanimate entities (rocks, mountains, rivers, forests), ecosystems, phenomena, forces, and the laws and principles governing them.
Makes You Happier
Whether walking in the woods or listening to a playlist of birdsong on Spotify, spending time outdoors will make you happier. A growing body of research shows that nature — including green spaces and even pockets in urban settings — makes us feel more alive and rejuvenated.
Scientists have found that spending two hours in nature weekly can significantly boost happiness and positive emotions. These benefits appear universal, regardless of age, gender, or social class.
Further research should focus on different geographic areas, vulnerable or historically marginalized populations, and the impact of specific environmental features, such as biodiverse landscapes, and outdoor recreation activities, such as walking, hiking, biking, gardening, and birdwatching.
Makes You More Creative
When you’re trying to brainstorm ideas for a new project, write that blog post, or come up with that creative solution, it can take a lot of work to keep your focus and find inspiration. But a straightforward walk in nature is a way to get back in the flow. Leaving the office and getting outside clears your mind and allows the creative part of your brain to turn on.
The lead researcher on the study, cognitive neuroscientist Dr. David Strayer, noticed that hikers who spent a few days immersed in nature performed much better on creative reasoning tests than those who didn’t take time away from screens. He found that when your frontal cortex powers down, the creative parts of your brain cannot make connections.