As we become more dependent on technology, we grow farther away from the way our ancestors once lived – connected to nature. However, our brains have mostly stayed the same, and nature has a way of resetting and reviving our brains and how we think.
There are many studies on the matter and scientific data to prove it. Research has shown changes in electroencephalography (EEG) readings while people walked through green spaces. The results showed lower frustration, but higher engagement and arousal levels when compared to people in urban settings.
Virtually any form of engagement in the natural world, whether it be taking a hike or simply going to a green park, heightens your overall well-being. This also encourages more positive engagement with the larger human community.
Nature and Your Mental Health
Now that we know nature can improve our overall mental well-being, let’s look more specifically at how nature can improve symptoms of depression and stress and improve your mental focus and creativity.
Reduce Stress with the Color Green
There are phycological benefits of the color green itself. Green is on the center of the spectrum and strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustment, resulting in a restful sense to the eyes. As a restful color, green is used to remedy anxiety and nervousness.
Improve Focus and Engagement
When your brain is over-stimulated, perhaps from a long day in the office, your brain can run out of energy. When your brain is low on energy, you may feel drained and unable to pay attention. However, nature can help restore your brain’s energy by giving it time to recover. This recovery period allows for attention restoration, encouraging a more focused mindset.
Similar to the EEG study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people after they walked for 90 minutes in a natural setting versus an urban one. They found that those who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions. So, in theory, when you’re in nature, your brain focuses more on positive thoughts rather than negative, helping to reduce depression.
Many scientists believe our brains were not made for constant technology use. This flood of information can lead to mental fatigue. However, much like nature improves our focus, it also restores depleted attention circuits, which can then help us be more open to creativity and problem-solving.
How to Incorporate Nature into Your Daily Life
If you take the time to look, most cities have parks or botanical gardens for residents to take advantage of. Use these green spaces during your lunch break or during evening walks with your family. Even a 30-minute stroll through a natural area with green grass, plants, and trees can provide many benefits.
Even if you don’t have time to go outside, you can fill your home space with natural elements. A study led by Stanford found that simply interacting with natural spaces offers other therapeutic benefits. Fill your space with natural light or house plants, or even grow a small garden on your patio or in your backyard to interact more with nature.
Mental Health and Recovery
Many people believe addiction is purely a physical addiction. However, there can be many different reasons addiction occurs, some emotional and some physical. All of these factors must be addressed in order to ensure a complete recovery. We commonly refer to this kind of treatment as dual-diagnosis.
As mental health is vital to a strong recovery, we encourage a wide range of holistic therapy options for our patients to partake in. Some of these include nature walks, yoga on the beach, or kayaking on the water, all of which immerse you in nature and help soothe your mind.
If you’d like to know more about our holistic treatments, contact our trained admissions counselors at 866-349-1770.