In a time where humanity is being confronted with the drastic changes taking place in nature, we take a moment to think about the effect our natural environment has on us.
Being forced to stay indoors might be proof enough to tell us what we suspected all along: Being outdoors makes us happy. In fact, a study done by the University of Regina shows that just being in nature for five minutes can improve your mood.
‘There are two important take homes,’ Katherine D. Arbuthnott, a co-author of the study, told PsyPost. ‘The first I emphasise to all my students these days — when you need an emotional boost, the fastest and easiest way is to spend a few minutes with nature. The second is that, since contact with nature is so beneficial to our emotional health, preserving our local natural spaces is an important public health goal.’
In a way, this might be linked to how being active also improves your mood and lowers stress, as physical exercise releases endorphins in the brain which in turn make you feel good. Many people hike, run, cycle or do other activities outdoors. However, just sitting still outdoors or even looking at pictures of natural scenery have also proven to release feelings of happiness and relieve stress.
Researchers at the Finnish Forest Research Institute in Finland recently measured people’s well-being in three different environments: urban areas, busy city parks, and wilder forests. The study found that people began to feel psychologically restored after just 15 minutes of sitting outside in both the park and forest, according to TIME Magazine.
While we are still in lockdown and many might not have a garden, the next best thing would be to look at images of nature as a survey reported on The Conversation found that the responses of those who only viewed digital images of wildlife were almost the same as those who experienced them in real life.
So, next time you battle a bout of the lockdown blues, step outside, take a breath and be inspired by the beauty of Mother Nature.