May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re diving into how nature can make us happier, calmer, and less stressed.
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, and everyone can benefit from learning how to employ the life-improving power of the outdoors. Whether you have a mental health problem or not, we’re here to help you be happier, calmer, and less stressed.
The idea of a “nature cure” and the psychological benefits of a walk in some fresh air aren’t new. Groups like Outward Bound have been bringing veterans on expeditions for years.
When Stacy Bare returned from his deployment to Baghdad in 2006, he struggled with a host of problems: alcoholism, a cocaine habit, and suicidal thoughts, to name a few. It wasn’t until 2010, when a fellow veteran took him rock climbing on First Flatiron, in Boulder, Colorado, that things began to turn around. “If I hadn’t started climbing, I’d probably be another sad statistic,” says Bare. “The focus it gave me let me leave my troubles on the ground.”
What are you waiting for? Reach into your inner biophilia (humanity’s affinity for nature) and get out there; find that little boost you need.
What are the benefits of getting outdoors?
Benefits of Less Screen Time
According to Nicholas Carr’s 2010 book The Shallows, the average American spends at least eight hours a day looking at some sort of electronic screen (which has increased in the last 7 years). Then we try to relax by watching TV. Bad idea. Research shows that this only makes us crabbier, so put away the electronics and step outside.
Benefits of Nature Sounds
Nature sounds create a calm, peaceful relaxing atmosphere that allows us to escape from the stresses of everyday life. In addition, these sounds are a helpful way to regenerate the body and soul after a hard day of work. The soothing sounds of nature are also a great way for people to drown out outside noises that are often quite distractive and disruptive. So grab a breath of fresh air and enjoy the sounds of the wind blowing and birds chirping. We guarantee you’ll be back for more.
Benefits of Color
Don’t let the blues get you down. Turns out they can actually bring you up. Adding some greenery to our lives is a great start, but we need to add some blue too. The color blue reduces stress, which creates a sense of calmness, relaxation, and order. So lie on your back, look into a bright blue cloudless sky and feel the calmness and sense of freedom take over.
Even the simplest of outdoor activities can boost your mood. So go for that walk in the park or go read a book outside. Do something. We aren’t doctors, but we want to prescribe you to take 5 minutes in nature -- that’s all that’s required to raise your spirits.
Take a hammock with you for some extra relaxation.
While nature is a unique and liberating way to cure your mind and your mood at no cost, you can seek further help or treatment here. If you’re in a crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK.