Is social distancing leaving you feeling isolated and lonely? If so, you might try taking a walk in a park—or watching a nature documentary. Doing either one is likely to make you feel better.
According to numerous studies, connecting with nature offers a lot of mental health benefits, such as:
- Improved attention and memory.
- Reduced stress.
- Improved mood.
- Reduced risk of psychiatric disorders.
In one study, people who spent at least two hours in nature over a week’s time reported greater health and feelings of well-being, according to the American Psychological Association. That was true no matter their age or whether they had chronic health problems.
Another study found that just being outdoors was linked to heightened feelings of emotional well-being.
People also do better on mental tasks while listening to nature sounds, compared to those who listen to city sounds, another study found. Even looking at nature videos was found to improve attention and inspire positive emotions.
Get back to nature
So what can you do to start reaping the rewards of nature? Here are a few ideas:
- Take a walk in a forest or park. Even a city park has greenery. A secondary benefit: The exercise is good for your heart too.
- Visit a nearby National Wildlife Refuge. If you can’t get out to explore on foot, many refuges have auto tours so you can view the animals from your car.
- Bring the wildlife to you by hanging a bird feeder. Put out some unsalted peanuts or a corncob for squirrels too.
- Do you have snow this winter? Take the family snowshoeing or sledding on a nearby hill.
- Stream a nature show to watch at home. Or check out what your local library has to offer.
- Tend to some houseplants. Plant them in decorative pots and watch them grow.