We’ve all craved nature at some point. Ever felt like a hike in the woods or a canoe trip on a river or lake? Me neither. But what I have felt is that niggling need to escape the city to get some fresh air and be in a natural open space. When we find ourselves stressed, sick or just having a tough time, it can be incredibly healing and grounding to spend quiet contemplative time in a park or garden. Sometimes, the craving can be as simple as needing the feeling of the warm sun on your skin. (To all our frozen Melbourne-based readers, we feel you).
The idea that spending time in nature to make you feel better is intuitive. Green therapy, also known as ecotherapy, has become a hot topic. And not only for researchers, this concept is a big deal for people in search of better managing depression. Being in nature has long been associated with being mindful and meditative, but only recently has the scientific community researched the mental health benefits of outdoor immersion.
In fact, beyondblue research has found that the effects of living in a “green” environment cannot be underestimated. There are a range of benefits for people who visit green, open spaces, including:
- improved energy,
- lower stress levels,
- improved mood,
- lower levels of anxiety,
- lower levels of depression,
- being physically active (which has loads of its own benefits).
Nature does not just mean wilderness. It can mean hiking or getting out to the country, or it can be as simple as gardening. Tending to your balcony herbs. Meeting friends for a walk in your local park instead of at a café.
So the next time you’re feeling flat, hit your local green space or cuddle up to the pot plant on your desk. While there’s no clear answer as to where happiness lies, we’re sure it’s surrounded by greenery.