April 22 is Earth Day, and this year’s celebration comes at an exciting time for the human experiment. In many ways, we’re more disconnected from the Earth than we’ve ever been. According to some research, the average American spends almost 93% of their time indoors – 87% in a house and 6% in a car. What’s more, Americans spend about 10 hours per day in front of a screen. But just because we’ve been disconnecting ourselves from nature doesn’t mean that it’s any less of a force on our lives. In this post, we will look at how nature can affect mental health (and how you can use it to improve your overall mood).
Ways that Nature Can Affect Mental Health
It’s no secret that nature may be able to exert its influence on the human psyche in several ways. Here are a few of the most common.
The first way that nature appears to be able to affect our mental health is by improving cognition. You can look at plenty of specific examples of this. Researchers at the University of Chicago discovered that children who have plenty of green spaces next to their homes usually demonstrate higher cognitive development and self-control levels than those who don’t. Research also showed that access to green spaces could improve attention and working memory. In contrast, urban environments appeared to have the opposite effect by lowering attention spans.
In addition to improving our cognitive function, nature appears to be able to reduce feelings of stress. In fact, being in nature for just a few moments may be enough to make some stressed-out, tired people start perking up.
Some researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa published a paper in the International Journal of Wellbeing that details their hypothesis on the matter. They believe that humans have a special connection to nature – it’s where we evolved, after all. That special connection makes us feel at home in natural habitats. As a result, we feel less stressed and worried. Another theory suggests that being in nature actually helps refill the brain’s energy meters. It’s sort of like R&R for your mind. This theory is less prevalent, though, and nearly impossible to quantify.
How Can Being in Nature Affect Mental Health?
Okay, so we’ve covered some of how nature can subtly affect mental health and wellbeing. Now, let’s look at some specific ways to harness the power of nature to boost your mood.
If you want to harness the energy of the outdoors to boost your mental health, there’s nothing like going straight to the source. In fact, spending as little as 40 seconds in nature can lead to positive effects. And by combining the power of nature with the natural benefits of exercise, you can significantly improve the effectiveness of your outdoor time.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing when you’re outside. Hiking through a nature trail, riding your bike through a park, swimming in a local lake or river – whatever it is, it will help! Another great way to boost the mental benefits of being outdoors is doing it with a group. You’re getting all the benefits of exercising, socializing, and being outside all rolled up into one delicious mood-boosting burrito.
What if you’re not the kind of person who likes to get hot and sweaty out in the woods? You still have options! One great way to use nature to improve mental health is by taking an occasional forest bath. The term comes from the Japanese phrase “Shrin-Yoku,” and first became popular in Japan in the 1980s. The long-running practice first arose as a way for Japanese people to get away from the high-stress, super-fast lifestyle that came with the country’s work culture.
How does it work? Unlike most outdoor experiences, you’re not worrying about exercising during a forest bath. There doesn’t need to be any hiking, jogging, or climbing involved. Instead, you just want to focus on the forest around you. Keep your senses open and pay close attention to any input they receive. The smell of the trees, the sounds of the animals that live there, and the feeling of the air on your skin. That makes a forest bath super-accessible, even to those of us who aren’t avid outdoors people.
A forest bath is a viable way to reduce and release modern-day stress, including “technostress” that arises from always being plugged in. While it may not sound like much at first, forest baths have some pretty significant research backing it up. Research shows that forest baths appear to have a measurable impact on our mood. In fact, a simple two-hour forest bath appears to be enough to show positive results.
Getting the Most Out of Being Outside
Making the decision to spend some time outdoors to improve your mental health this Earth Day is a great decision. But it’s not one you have to make alone. You can combine the natural stress-relieving properties of CBD with an outdoor adventure to get the most out of your next forest bath.
Research already shows that CBD may be an effective way to reduce anxiety. By combining that with the stress-reducing properties of natural green spaces, you can focus on maximizing the mental health boost of your next foray into nature.
That’s where we’re here to help. Check out Relive Everyday’s stock of CBD gummies for a tasty boost. Or, explore our selection of infused CBD oils for a no-frills experience. And don’t forget to check out our complete inventory to discover more premium CBD-infused solutions.