A walk in the park, a hike, kayaking adventure, or reading a book in a hammock outside are just a few ways to increase the amount of time you spend in nature.
For some, getting out in nature is as easy as walking into the backyard, but for others-it takes a little more planning. Let’s go over a handful of benefits of spending time in nature.
1. Higher sleep quality
Some studies show that the more time a person spends outside and exercising, the more hours of sleep they accumulate. This could have something to do with the circadian rhythm, where spending more time in natural lighting helps your body reset its internal clock and make it easier to fall asleep at bedtime.
2. Lower stress levels
A Harvard article detailed that spending at least 20 minutes in nature leads to a large drop in cortisol (the stress hormone). Going on a walk during your lunch break could help you tackle the second half of the workday with a renewed sense of energy.
3. Decreased anxiety & depression
When participants of a study walked in natural settings, the part of the brain that focuses on negative emotions had decreased activity compared to those who walked in urban settings. Green spaces including grass, trees, and shrubs in addition to blue spaces like oceans, rivers, and streams have a positive impact on mental health.
4. Boosted creativity
A study on outdoor office work yielded benefits to mental health, creativity, and functioning. The ability to take sedentary work outside could be a low-cost benefit to many companies to attract and retain employees. Higher productivity and creativity are beneficial to both employees and employers.
5. Better memory and concentration
One study found that spending an hour in nature improved memory retention by 20%. This is especially beneficial for new employees, college students, and anyone trying to learn new information quickly. Being able to retain information for a longer period of time is important for many jobs and daily duties.
Nature is the one medication with no negative consequences (if you wear your sunscreen and hats!). The mental effects that can be gained from spending time in nature are attractive to many people struggling with ADHD, disrupted sleep, and high stress levels.
The best way to incorporate nature into your daily routine is to pick a timeframe with the least disruptions. Right when you wake up, during your lunch break, or directly after work are some times to consider. Removing any roadblocks to your goal is also best. If you are planning to take a walk after work, pack your walking shoes the night before work. If you want to jog in the park right when you wake up, fill up your water bottle and lay out your clothes so everything is easily accessible in the morning.