Have you found yourself feeling clearer and calmer after a walk in the park? Or perhaps a day spent in the woods has left you with a high, giddy on the fresh air and crisp leaves crunching underfoot.
No, you’re not mad; this is a scientifically acknowledged part of human behaviour! Named ecopsychology, the link between humans and nature is closer than many people expect, and incorporating more of the good green stuff into your daily routine could change your life. No exaggeration.
What is Ecopsychology?
Ecopsychology explores the connection between the human mind and nature. Looking beyond the manmade world, it’s a subject that supports the belief that humans are intrinsically linked with the outside world. If you’ve ever experienced deep peace or pure joy from surrounding yourself in nature (as our own Form co-founder has), you’re experiencing the very ethos of ecopsychology.
The Benefits of Being in Nature
There’s plenty of research looking into the effects of nature on humans that ecopsychologists use to back up their sentiments. One study that encompassed a massive 20,000 people discovered that those who spent at least two hours every week in natural environments reported far better health and well-being than those who didn’t. These results were the same for people of different ages, occupations, races, and physical abilities. In other words, no matter who you are, you could see your body and mind improve by simply spending more time in your local park.
But how exactly can it help? The answer is extensive, with a wide range of benefits. In terms of mental health, it’s been proven time and again that getting up close and personal with Mother Nature can:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Improve cognitive development and function
- Increase attention span
- Boost your mood
- Reduce risks of psychiatric disorders
- Increase empathy
There’s a reason why so many rehab centres and mental health treatments include time spent outdoors as part of the road to recovery. Humans thrive mentally when they’re outdoors, and though it might not be the cure for mental illness, it could certainly help.
On the physical side of things, getting outdoors can:
- Boost your immune system
- Accelerate recovery from wounds or illness
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve your sleep
That’s not even from extensive exercise. A simple walk through the woods can do all of this and more, making it a no-brainer!
How to Embrace the Outdoors Every Day
As the study we mentioned previously showed, at least two hours of time spent amongst nature is needed a week in order to see the benefits. But in a world that’s increasingly focused on being indoors or enveloped in a concrete jungle, that might seem tricky. To help you out, we’ve put together some of the ways that you can work on your relationship with Mother Nature every day:
Find Your Local Nature Spots
Even in the most urban of cities, you’ll find natural spots. Parks, rivers, and woodland are everywhere; you just have to look for them. Be sure to map out every natural area in your vicinity so that you know where to go. Of course, if you live in the countryside, then this won’t be as much of a priority, though it can be nice to mark out different spots so that you can switch up your daily dose of greenery.
Take Advantage of Work Breaks
If you’re guilty of binge-watching Netflix shows during your lunch hour, it’s time to make a change. Use every break you have to get outdoors and surround yourself with nature. Keep your phone away, and make sure to be mindful as you breathe in the world around you.
Get Hands-On With Nature
When out in the world, don’t be afraid to have some skin-on-skin time with nature. Walk barefoot in the sand, touch the bark of the trees, and always stop to smell the roses! By physically touching the natural world, you enhance your connection and maximise the benefits.
We all love going to the gym for a good workout, but why not switch it up and exercise outdoors? Head for a run across your nearest hilly landscape for a proper challenge, and find some great trees in your local woodland for some pull-ups. The world around you can become your own natural gym if you want it to.
Start growing your own greenery whether you have a garden or not. If you do have a garden, make it a priority to head outside and clear it up, planting plenty of greenery and making it a natural haven. If you don’t, start potting plants inside! There are plenty of flowers and plants that thrive in indoor environments and can bring you a healthy dose of the outdoor world every day.
Ecopsychology isn’t just a fad or trend but a proven scientific theory that could have tremendous positive impacts on lives around the world. From alleviating depression to lowering the risk of heart attacks, getting outdoors is too good a health kick to miss. So, let’s all make it a priority to feel the sun on our skin, the sand beneath our feet, and the wind in our hair just a little more.