10 Ways Nature Can Positively Impact Your Brain
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Do you know it takes exactly 120 minutes for people to spend time in nature and say they feel healthy and have a strong sense of wellbeing?
A study of 20,000 people (source) found that people who spent two hours in green spaces were more likely to report good health and psychological wellbeing than those who don’t.
While two hours is a hard boundary – there are no benefits if less time is spent outdoors – it doesn’t need to be at once; this could happen over several visits during an entire week.
Even though because of our busier lives children and adults alike are no longer spending time in nature as they once did, hopefully, two hours is a realistic target, especially when we consider how mentally, emotionally, and physically empowering nature is.
Think you don’t need to spend more time in nature? Check out some of the great things that being outdoors can do for you!
Sometimes we rely too much on ourselves for inspiration, but when we struggle to brainstorm, turn to nature. Going outdoors can be incredibly inspiring for artists. The calmness nature offers can also allow us to work slowly towards a creative route rather than rush the process. Nature doesn’t rush or judge us.
The versatility of nature, from forests and rivers to beaches, can get our brains pumping with fresh ideas. Nature is very patient with us, letting us work at our own pace and allowing thoughts to arise naturally. All stimuli present in nature, both positive and negative, can provoke emotions and sensations crucial for coming up with new ideas.
Teaches us patience
Waiting for a package to arrive, standing in line at the store, and dealing with traffic: what do these do? Make us angry and impatient.
Nature teaches us the value of patience and even gives us a taste of it. The outdoors is a prime example of why we should take things slower. Flowers slowly blossom, seasons take months to transform, and nature gradually shifts. It proves to us that time is what’s needed to evolve.
Without patience, we allow stress and discontentment to rule our lives. Patience is key!
The problem with our world today is that we work too hard and worry too much. We live in a fast-paced society that doesn’t give us many opportunities to slow down. However, nature can help us get off the hamster wheel.
Something as simple as switching your environment by going outdoors after sitting in a stuffy office all day can be refreshing. The different temperatures, scenery, and elements surrounding you can provide a new perspective. In turn, these changes can essentially help “re-start” when you’re dealing with a highly stressful moment.
Research shows that the color green, which is frequently found in nature, can also promote happiness. After all, happiness is often the opposite of stress.
Aids with memory
While again and declining memory are linked, nature can help in several aspects of it. A study found that when participants went on a 35-minute nature walk, they had better memory by about 20-percent. And while it won’t cure someone with Alzheimer’s disease, any memory improvement is important.
The reason nature aids with memory is because it helps to clear our minds. When the mind is overpowered with thoughts and worries, it is harder to concentrate, thus memorize and recall information. The simplicity, freshness, and peacefulness of nature can counteract these very issues.
Diminishes obsessive thoughts
Repetitive, obsessive thoughts are poison to our cognition. To ward off anxious or stressful thoughts, sit outdoors for just 10 minutes, or go on a short walk. Instead of focusing on your thoughts, emphasize what is around you: trees and flowers, birds, and sunshine. Feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your skin.
Nature works to eliminate obsessive thoughts by acting as a distractor. Now and then, a distraction may be exactly what we need. Going outside can shift all of our senses. Whenever you need a head change, get up and get out. Never stay in one given place for too long.
Improves general cognition
Nature truly offers the best ways to improve memory. If you struggle with slow information processing, impaired recall, or poor attention, spending time outdoors may help. Again, there is something about nature that clears the mind, making the brain process smoother and more efficiently.
May lower blood pressure
High stress and a poor diet can both contribute to higher blood pressure. As a result, a stroke or heart attack may be in our future if it reaches dangerous levels. But the relaxing components of nature such as softly chirping birds and calm breezes can soothe us.
Having lower blood pressure may allow us to lead longer and healthier lives in the long run. While detrimental for everyone, high blood pressure is particularly harmful to pregnant women and those with poor diets and exercise habits. Thus, deciding to get closer to nature is one solution to a healthier body and life – and it’s free!
Helps us to solve problems
Whether you find a stressful error in your work or need to solve a personal issue, nature will help. Nature won’t tell us what to do nor it’ll magically solve our issues. After all, it isn’t our therapist. However, what it can do is give us the courage to find a resolution. Mother Nature can be our friend when no one else will listen or help.
Nature can also clear our mind to give us the energy to direct towards other potential solutions to a problem. When we have too many things going on mentally, it can be difficult to find a clear, logical direction. Being outside can allow us to think with our head, heart, and gut to find the best solution.
Improves our sleep
Being in the great outdoors can potentially improve our sleep. Our body’s natural circadian rhythm heavily relies on sunshine to work its best. Lack of sunshine can contribute to hormone imbalances which can affect when we feel sleepy.
That said, if you suffer from insomnia or hypersomnia, getting more sunshine may help with time. This is important as we live in a world powered by technology. Our computers, smartphones, and other devices alone can affect our circadian rhythms. Powering down our devices and spending more time outside is a key step to better sleep.
Allows us to see the brighter side of things
Last but not least, immersing ourselves in nature can boost our positivity. When we spend our entire day indoors, it can be exhausting. For some, it can take a toll on their perception.
Taking a stroll outdoors, we can see things from an improved standpoint. There’s nothing that nature can’t do for our emotional wellbeing, it seems.
A positive outlook is important in many situations. Positivity can boost our confidence, help us keep pushing forward, and allow us to be happier.
There’s no excuse to not spend some time in the outdoors. There’s a plethora of wonderful places to choose from and hundreds of ways to enjoy Earth’s beauty. Swim in a lake, have a picnic in your backyard, or lay on the grass and stare at the clouds. A half-hour of nature a day can keep the negativity at bay!
Sometimes we need a fully immersive experience in nature. Go on a detox weekend to help you improve your wellness and absorb energy from nature!