Stressed? You need nature.
Depressed? You need Nature.
Unwell? You need nature.
Overworked? You need Nature.
Got kids? You definitely need Nature (so do they)
Happy? You’ll enjoy nature even more.
Human? You NEED Nature.
So the results are in. Studies popping up all over the place are showing that human beings need to have nature in their lives for mental, emotional, physical, social, spiritual wellbeing.
Some of this may seem totally obvious to people who already have some relationship with nature.
These studies confirm what we know and give us bragging rights to others that we were right all along.
They can help us feel even better about our time in nature and ease away any fears that our cloud gazing is unproductive (it could be saving your life!)
If you don’t already know how good nature is then these studies may convince you to get outside and grab a walk in the park instead of a coffee when you need a mood boost.
Below are links to 10 of the best research examples (8 original studies and 2 literature reviews on peer reviewed studies) on the healing benefits of nature.
I had to dig around quite a bit on the Internet to get the original research papers so you can see first-hand how and what the studies are finding rather than a selective media reportage. However since some of these theses can be pretty heavy reading I’ve summarized a key statement or finding from each just in case you want to skim through.
Can Nature Make Us More Caring? – Effects of Immersion in Nature on Intrinsic Aspirations and Generosity
“Those more immersed in natural settings were more generous, whereas those immersed in non-natural settings were less likely to give. Feelings of autonomy and nature relatedness were responsible for the willingness to give to others, indicating that these experiences facilitated a willingness to promote others’ interests as well as one’s own. In other words, autonomy and relatedness encouraged participants to focus on their intrinsic values for relationships and community rather than on personal gain.
All studies showed that participants exposed to nature valued intrinsic goals more and extrinsic goals less than they had before exposure”
Natural environments – healthy environments? An exploratory analysis of the relationship between green space and health
“…our analyses have shown that greenness of the living environment has a stronger relationship with self-reported health than urbanity. In a greener environment people report fewer symptoms and have better perceived general health. Also people’s mental health appears to be better. Furthermore, the additional presence of a garden seems to be beneficial to people’s health”
In this now classic study, Roger S. Ulrich researched the effects of a natural view for patients recovering from surgeries in a Pennsylvanian hospital. The 200 selected patients were divided into two groups that were matched for age and many other socio-economic factors. One group had rooms which looked out on to a brick wall whilst others had windows that looked on to a natural scene. The study found that:
“In comparison with the wall-view group, the patients with the tree view had shorter postoperative hospital stays, had fewer negative evaluative comments from nurses, took fewer moderate and strong analgesic doses, and had slightly lower scores for minor postsurgical complications.”
Marine Biota and Psychological Well-Being: A Preliminary Examination of Dose–Response Effects in an Aquarium Setting
As a large marine aquarium was being restocked, researchers looked at the effects the display had from when it was empty until full.
“We found that increased biota levels were associated with longer spontaneous viewing of the exhibit, greater reductions in heart rate, greater increases in self-reported mood, and higher interest. We suggest that higher biota levels, even in managed settings, may be associated with important well-being and health benefits, particularly for individuals not able to access the natural analogues of managed environments.
Opportunities for engaging with nature, even in “managed” settings, may be key in helping urban populations connect with natural environments.”
Therapeutic landscapes and wellbeing in later life: Impacts of blue and green spaces for older adults
“The findings demonstrate how both green and blue spaces can have a significant impact on physical, mental, and social health in later life. Participants felt motivated to get out of the house to exercise and enjoy the fresh air and surroundings. These spaces promoted mental wellbeing, in which experiences of nature provoked feelings of renewal, restoration, and spiritual connectedness. They also provided a space for multi-generational social interaction and engagement, including planned activities with friends and families, and impromptu social engagements with neighbors.”
“Unipolar depressive disorders are now the leading cause of disability in middle to high income countries, making mental health and wellbeing a critical modern public health issue. This trend may be related to increased urbanisation, with 77.7% of people in the world’s more developed regions now residing in urban areas, and to reduced access to “natural” spaces which aid stress reduction. Support for this possibility comes from epidemiological studies which find that individuals living in the greenest urban areas tend to have better mental health than those in the least green areas. Similar patterns are found for a range of physical health outcomes, including mortality.”
Results of the study are summarized in this interesting 2 minute video
“Imagine a therapy that had no known side effects, was readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning at zero cost. Such a therapy has been known to philosophers, writers, and laypeople alike: interacting with nature. Many have suspected that nature can promote improved cognitive functioning and overall well-being, and these effects have recently been documented.
We compare the restorative effects on cognitive functioning of interactions with natural versus urban environments. These experiments demonstrate the restorative value of nature as a vehicle to improve cognitive functioning. These data are of particular interest especially when one considers the difficulty of discovering training regimens that are intended to improve cognitive performance in any way”
“Outdoor education directly exposes children and youth to the natural environment in ways that develop powerful, knowledgeable and lifelong connections essential for a healthy and sustainable future.
Outdoor pursuits do more than combat obesity and benefit the economy; spending time outside benefits overall wellness and academic achievement. Playing outside improves concentration, motor development, coordination, mental acuity, and mood. Time outdoors also reduces attention deficit disorder (ADD) symptoms, lowers blood pressure, and alleviates stress and anxiety.”
“We found that individuals diagnosed with MDD exhibited cognitive and affective improvements after walking in a nature setting. The fact that the nature walk was beneficial even while participants were thinking of a negative autobiographical memory suggests that the walk could be beneficial even in the midst of heightened ruminative processes.”
“Early research found that in the act of contemplating nature, the brain is relieved of ‘excess’ circulation (or activity) and nervous system activity is reduced. …an experience of nature can help strengthen the activities of the right hemisphere of the brain, and restore harmony to the functions of the brain as a whole. This is a technical explanation of the process that occurs when people ‘clear their head’ by going for a walk in a natural setting.”
All this evidence shows clearly that we need to get more nature in our lives and the more time we immerse ourselves in nature and consciously interact with the natural world, the more benefits we reap.Research in psychology, health, community & society all show nature is the path to wellbeing. Click To Tweet
I’m glad that scientific studies are validating the healing benefits of being outside in nature but there are many other subjective therapeutic effects of nature that each of us find through our own personal interaction with the natural world. It is my desire to help you gain the multiple benefits of connecting with nature. You can access the free 7-day Nature Connection E-Course here AND also check out the upcoming Coaching & Healing with Nature Course which is an intensive 4-week program to teach you some vital techniques of nature connection that will enhance your wellbeing in the areas of health, work, relationships and self-development.
Go ahead check out the programs and then take a screen break and have some fun outside soaking up the healing power of nature!