Importance of connecting with Nature for our mental wellbeing

Importance of connecting with Nature for our mental wellbeing

26 Apr 2021

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This informal CPD article Importance of connecting with Nature for our mental wellbeing was provided by Thrive, Creators of 'Thrive: Mental Wellbeing' - The NHS approved app to prevent, screen & manage mental health conditions.

""People must feel that the natural world is important and valuable and beautiful and wonderful and an amazement and a pleasure""

Sir David Attenborough

Depending on the environmental context we are in and the place we visit, being surrounded by nature can make us feel various emotions and physical sensations. Our relationship with nature can make us feel happy and joyful, contempt and caring, overwhelmed and admiring. We are a part of nature and there is an increasing amount of studies that show that connection with nature promotes health satisfaction and engages individuals in pro-social behaviour. In fact, it could be suggested that our affinity for nature is genetic and deeply rooted in our evolutionary development. Hence, it is important to take into the account that this relationship between nature and us, is important for a wide spectrum of behaviours and our ability to function in everyday life.

Nowadays, we often feel the unpleasant consequences of careless exploitation of the natural environment and due to this, we involuntarily suffer the consequences of non-ecological activities, even if we are not actively trying to destroy it in any way. This can be very common for those of us who live in big cities, where there is a limited amount of nature, more noise, pollution and this general feeling of overwhelm and guilt can be very disturbing. The stress of an unpleasant environment can make us feel more tense, stressed, anxious, sad and helpless. Where in turn, a pleasing environment has a reverse effect. In recent years, numerous psychological studies have linked exposure to nature with reduced anger, fear and stress. Nonetheless, aside from psychological benefits, it also contributes to our physical wellbeing. For instance, it reduces blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension. Therefore we can consider our relationship with nature as a natural medicine.

As humans we have the responsibility to take care of our environment meaning that we should develop habits that can contribute to pro-ecological activities every day. Ecological life means respect for nature, which consists of prudent, conscious and justified use of the natural resources and their potential. For over 50 years now, on every 22nd of April we have been celebrating Earth day in accordance with environmental protection, in order to conserve natural resources and where possible, to repair the damage. This day gives us the best opportunity to get out and connect with nature as much as possible and there are many ways for you to do it.

Spend time outside

Try to go implement daily walking to appreciate nature. If you find it difficult you could try to do your work outside or eat outdoors during your lunch break if the weather permits. You could also arrange a picnic with your loved ones or your friends. Challenge yourself to spend at least 15 minutes during the day and increase that time over the weekends.

Try a scenic route to work

If you are still commuting to your work, you could try an alternative route with nice scenery of nature. 

Watch a sunset

If you’ve had a rough day, go and watch a sunset in your favourite spot. Whether it's a garden or a local park, it gives you a reason to go out but it also can be a breath-taking experience and a moment of gratefulness. 

Bring nature indoors

Having flowers and ornamental plants at home and in the workplace, can increase levels of positive energy and help you feel more relaxed and productive. Passive and active involvement with plants in the workplace are considered contributing factors to mitigating stress, anxiety and fatigue within the workplace. 

Mindfulness

It’s easy to lose focus and stop noticing the stuff that’s going on around you. Mindfulness helps to mediate a relationship between nature, connectedness and wellbeing. It allows you to reconnect with your body, mind and improves awareness of your surroundings, feelings and emotions. Free yourself from the past and start focusing on the present moment. Go outside and appreciate the beauty of the nature around you. Focus on the sounds, your thoughts and sensations you experience in that given moment. Practicing mindfulness will help to relieve stress, improve your sleep and general sense of wellbeing.

Grow something!

Nurturing and looking after plants is a great way to connect with nature.

Communicate nature experiences

Sharing our nature experiences with others can be a great way to connect on a deeper level with Mother Nature. This doesn’t have to be boring. You could try something new and paint a picture or write a poem to describe what you see. Even engaging in photography is a great way to appreciate nature. Expressing yourself through these creative activities and talking about your experiences will help you feel more connected.

Save energy!

Turning off the lights will not only help to reduce the amount of non-renewable resources but it will also help you with your sleeping patterns. Being exposed to too much artificial light can influence your circadian rhythm and have a negative effect on your sleeping patterns. So, remember to turn off the lights when you leave your room! 

Engage in pro-ecological activities

For example, you could cut down on the amount of plastic waste by buying products that don’t come in plastic packaging. You could try to reuse certain materials, more than once. Get creative! Being more conscious and aware of pro-ecological choices can be very rewarding as it helps us be active participants in improving our environment. Remember to reduce, reuse and recycle. 

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Thrive, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

Thrive

Thrive

For more information from Thrive, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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