Nature and Mental Health

An increasing body of empirical evidence is showing us the value of nature with regards to mental health. It would seem to most of us as a ‘no brainer’ that interactions with the outdoor environs of oceans, forests, mountains and even your own back garden if you have one, can make you feel better… but we seem to need convincing.

I was recently watching a fascinating episode of Australian Story about a farmer by the name of Charles Massey who had introduced regenerative farming to his family property in Australia. Degradation of the land through unsustainable farming methods had led him complete a PhD in Human Ecology and transform his own farm into a more environmentally sound ecosystem. Interestingly, he commented on the improvements he had experienced in his own mental health as he transitioned into a more ‘ecologically-friendly’ approach.  I believe a part of this improvement had to do with regular interaction with real nature as opposed to land that has been artifically imposed upon .

Urban living is the norm for most people. Our jobs, education opportunities, health and human services and cultural advancement is typically located in and around cities. This is all well and good on a myriad of levels, even as far as mental health goes, but it can also nurture an environment for people that is non- conducive to healthy living. In a nutshell, it can be an artificial existence. It can be too easy for people to spend too much time indoors, too much time in front of computer screens and too little time spent in outdoor recreation.

Laboratory studies have revealed the beneficial physiological and psychological impact of natural sounds and images. Research has shown the positive affects on cognitive and physiological aspects of participants who spent time in natural locations as opposed to urban environments. There is scientific evidence that identifies that psychological wellbeing is influenced by human interaction with green space and blue space (aquatic). It is clear that we as human beings are made for nature and that nature is made for us.

It is imperative that we look after nature better than we ever have before, but we must also let nature look after us.

Get out there!

Nick Gwynn

Breathe Counselling