If you feel less stressed and more relaxed after a walk in the park or on the beach, there is a natural and scientific reason for feeling that way.
Several, in fact.
Research by Patricia Martyn from Queensland University of Technology and Eric Brymer Manchester Metropolitan University, published as “The relationship between nature relatedness and anxiety” finds that nature provides people ‘a sense of renewal’ which lowers their anxiety.
Nature seems to provide people with a way to let their minds recover from the effects of busy urban environments. It may be that it is not even necessary to be in nature to get the benefit, as long as one feels connected to it. Here are six of the themes that emerged in the research when people talked about what nature gave to them:
The authors, cited: “…nature induced relaxation and acted as a relief from stress.”
“evidence of nature being responsible for feelings of peace and calm”
“ nature providing a sense of renewal, re-grounding, and creating feelings of fulfillment.”
2. Time out
The authors explained:
“…nature provides a sense of being away from the everyday, escape, and refuge”
“being in nature is being away from the urban environment and providing a sense of freedom.”
People described how being in nature gave them “a sense of enjoyment, joy, happiness and contentment”
More than pure enjoyment, though, being in nature gave people the sense of…
“…being connected to something larger and revolved around feeling immersed, being part of something bigger, at one with, or connecting with what was important”
Being connected to nature was occasionally spoken about “in terms of being at one with the world, which also had secondary benefits of feeling peaceful.”
5. Sensory engagement
The authors also described that a spiritual aspect was evident:
“…nature was stimulating to the senses and was associated with ideas of beauty
This often included a spiritual aspect or a sense of the flawlessness of nature”
“Nature allowed them to breathe fresh air, experience natural elements, such as sunshine, and find space to be alone.”
6. Healthy perspective
People reported that…
“…nature was responsible for wellbeing and positive health.
Those participants who mentioned the health benefits of nature considered that nature was very important to their everyday lives, their mental health, overall wellbeing, and fitness.”
All of these observations seem obvious – who doesn’t find a walk in the park or on the beach therapeutic? – but it is good to see that they are backed up by science. This 2014 study was published in the Journal of Health Psychology.
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