Why Nature Is Great for Your Mental Health

Young people in Australia are spending less and less time outdoors, with children on screens three hours a day on average.

The emergence of monitoring resources for devices is an encouraging start when it comes to combating addiction to smartphones and the digital world in general. However, the most powerful way in which to curb addiction to technology, particularly social media, is to encourage people to truly connect with the great outdoors. The benefits of getting outside regularly are substantial – not just to your physical health, but to your mental health too.

Being outside makes you more creative

One arguably quite surprising benefit of immersing yourself in nature is that can boost your creativity. Research has shown that spending four days outside can improve problem-solving and creative performance by 50%. Spending time as a family on an outdoor adventure can also help strong bonds among people and aid creativity as a group. With electronic devices removed from the environment, children, parents and grandparents alike are more likely to reconnect in new and valuable ways. These sorts of positive outcomes can have a very powerful, lasting effect on people, with the potential to make the great outdoors an appealing place to be.

Being outside lowers stress and boosts self-esteem

A particularly important reason to get outside regularly is because nature helps you feel better about yourself. Studies reported in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology that just five minutes of light exercise can have a positive effect on mental health. ‘Exercise’ can include things like walking, cycling, gardening and fishing. This is thanks to the increased blood flow around the body and the release of endorphins, which are chemical hormones that combat pain and trigger positive feelings within us.

Meanwhile, research at the University of Queensland revealed the positive impact of outdoor play on mental health. This is particularly relevant to young people, whose morale can be significantly boosted by just thirty minutes a week playing at parks or other outdoor play areas.

The great outdoors improves your memory

Being out and about in a natural environment also has a powerful effect on your memory – something that can be particularly helpful for people preparing for a test or interview of sorts. This is partly thanks to the calming effect nature has on the mind, both through its colours, soothing sounds and relative stillness. The hyper stimulating, ‘busyness’ of cosmopolitan areas, meanwhile, makes it more difficult for people to relax, concentrate and remember things.

Fight tech addiction with nature

More and more time is spent inside and on screens each day, at the expense of being outdoors. The addictive nature of being ‘connected’ online 24/7 has worrying implications for the mental health of young people in particular. It is more important than ever to encourage people to spend time outdoors, whether it be on a family camping trip, going on a gentle stroll or having fun in a park. This could help tackle addiction to electronic devices and, most importantly, have a significantly positive impact on people’s mental health.


This article was kindly provided by Chrissy Jones