How Nature Impacts our Wellbeing
Working to protect natural habitats is a noble pursuit for people who love animals, but the benefits go far beyond wildlife. The natural world also does wonders for the minds and spirits of its human visitors.
For starters, it’s a great mood booster. Research has shown that stress, anxiety and depression can all be markedly alleviated by a nature walk. In a 2015 study, Stanford researchers found that when one group of participants walked through a natural setting, while another group walked through an urban setting, the nature group showed significantly less activity in the portion of the brain associated with rumination.
Nature can also help with concentration and focus. In 2013, researchers at the University of Edinburgh used electroencephalography (EEG) to analyze the brains of people walking through different kinds of settings. They found evidence that the participants’ minds were calmer while walking through natural areas, and more engaged and attentive afterward. In another study, children with ADHD showed better attentiveness after just 20 minutes in a park.
And spending time in nature isn’t just good for your brain. The sunshine increases your vitamin D, the forest can boost your immune system, and just the sight of nature can reduce your pain after surgery.
What You Can Do!
Get into nature as often as possible. Just a couple of hours each week can have tremendous benefits. If you can’t get away for long, bring nature to you by making your own yard or balcony a haven for wildlife.
Bring family and friends. Human beings are wired for connection to each other, so you can boost the health benefits of your natural outings by bringing friends and family along. A nature walk is great, but a group nature walk is even better.
Volunteer your time and talents to help conservation efforts. Protecting wildlife and their happy homes helps to ensure the beneficial natural world will be available to you for years to come.
Check out the The Wildlife Center of Virginia to learn more about the wild animals around you, and how you can help keep them safe.