June is National Great Outdoors Month. Did you know that being out in nature is a natural stress reliever? Think back to a time when you were at your favorite outdoor spot, maybe it’s the beach or the mountains, a camping experience, hiking your favorite trail or watching the sunset. Can you remember what emotions you were feeling or maybe what sensations you were experiencing? How about after you were finished? Did you feel calm, relaxed, or happy?
Nature deprivation is a term used to describe the rise in depression and anxiety relating to increase screen time whether that is a TV, phone, computer, or tablet. Have you thought about how much time you are spending in front of screens each day? The culture today does not do a good job of promoting the benefits of being outside. Studies have shown that screen time correlates with low mental and physical health.
The Effects of Nature
There have been several studies conducted that show that nature is an effective antidote for stress. More specifically, “green and blue” spaces that are natural environments have been found to have the most impact on stress reduction as opposed to urban spaces or indoor facilities. Dr. Matthew Edlund, Center for Circadian Medicine has said, “There are clinical trials where the antidepressant Prozac is compared to receiving doses of sunlight overtime, and light did better.” Nature reduces stress hormones in the body, lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, boosts overall mood, and improves self-esteem. Being connected to nature brings about feelings of joy, happiness, calm, peace, and creativity. In 2019, the Harvard Health Publishing blog featured a study that suggested spending just 20 minutes in nature lowered stress hormones in the body.
If you’re feeling the stress and pressure of life, try going outside, even if it’s only 20 minutes.
Anxiety feeling out of control? Reach out to a mental health provider for some helpful tools to manage your anxiety daily.