Walking in nature makes you more mindful and relaxed, when compared to walking for the same amount of time along city streets. Numerous scientific studies have discovered that residents of the urban areas who have limited possibility to spend time in green spaces are more vulnerable to psychological problems: mood disorders, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression.
We all feel sometimes down, and each of us has its own method to vent these emotions. While some ways of easing dissatisfaction are better than others, here are some scientifically proven ways nature can improve your mood:
Most of us connect a walk in a forest with positive emotions. When walking between trees we take break from busy life and relax our mind. It is no surprise that visiting a forest offers various health benefits as well. Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese term for forest bathing, a technique that recommends people to spend more time regularly in the woods as a natural treatment to boost their health.
Numerous studies were carried out to investigate the processes in the human body while being in a forest. They have discovered improvements in the mental state of a person, such as decrease of anxiety, depression, and increase of the level of patience and ability to concentrate [2,3]. The reason behind it is that when looking at the trees our blood pressure and pulse rate get lower, and the levels of cortisol in the blood decrease .
More exciting is the fact, that while we breathe the forest air, we inhale phytoncides, chemicals produced by trees to protect them from diseases and insects. Phytoncides boost our immune system as well as increase the pain threshold, and speed up the healing process .
A recent study from Stanford University has also shown the impact of environment on our emotions by comparing two groups of participants, whose task was to walk for 90 minutes either on the side of a busy road or in the nature. The group of participants walking in the nature showed decrease of brain activity responsible for negative emotions .
Move to a green neighborhood
Green neighborhoods have positive impact on health over the long-term. According to a study of Dutch urban residents, the distance to the closest green area affects general health .
The theory of Rachel and Stephen Kaplan offers simple explanation. Nature affects us even when only observed, because it activates our involuntary attention by focusing on it without using too much brain power. Our brain has space to meditate without being disturbed by too many sensations at once, and gets ultimate rest. Even short exposure to images with nature restores our ability to fully concentrate on a task .
Use smell to improve your health
Smells strongly affect our emotions and wellbeing, and because of that, extensive studies of how different floral scents influence human behavior have been carried out throughout the history.
Here are examples of some of the most usual plants used in aromatherapy and their effects:
- Lavender is well-known for its calming properties, improving the quality of sleep and releasing tension. Rose oil has similar relaxing properties, and jasmine has the power to cheer you up.
- Rosemary belongs to very versatile plants, it is widely used as a seasoning especially to Mediterranean dishes, and its oil is popular in aromatherapy. The scent released by the herb stimulates mental activity, boosting concentration and memory.
- Peppermint, a little miracle, is a great plant to elevate your performance and accuracy, when it comes to both mental and physical activity. Researchers discovered that in combination with cinnamon, peppermint eases aggression and restlessness while fostering accuracy when driving a long-distance .
Seems like a bad mood isn’t as bad as you think when simple walk outside in the nature can instantly relieve you. It is for free and it will make you feel better, healthier and more creative. Go out today to discover the effects of natural therapy yourself.