The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the flowers are blooming. Spring has finally reached Michigan after a long winter. There’s no better time to consider the benefits of the great outdoors on mental and physical health.
“The physiological response to being outside in nature is real, and it’s measurable,” said Michelle Kondo, a research social scientist with the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station.
Researchers have noticed the positive effects that nature has on our mental health. For example, studies have shown that “contacts with forest environments provide multiple positive physiological and psychological effects on human health that [includes] decreasing the blood pressure and heart rate and reducing anxiety and stress.” Specifically, being outside can help you with the following:
- Improved cognition.
- Decreased anxiety and stress levels.
- Calming the mind and body.
- Acts as a natural anti-depressant.
- Increased feelings of happiness and joy.
Ideas to Enjoy Nature and Ease Your Mind
- Go for a walk or a hike on a nature trail.
- Create a garden or bring plants inside.
- Take photos or videos of your favorite nature scenes.
- Eat meals outdoors.
- Join a walking or jogging group.
- Visit one of the many lakes in Michigan.
- Safely look for wildlife.
With Mother Nature, the possibilities are endless. Take notice of your surroundings and how it benefits your mental health. Try to incorporate nature into your everyday routine and enjoy the sunshine. Interested in general ways to stay fit? Click here for more information.