How Nature Has Positive Effects on Mental Health

Substance abuse is an ever-growing epidemic that affects millions of people nationwide. Many support options await those who are abusing drugs or alcohol. Help is also available for family members and friends who need it.

It is a hard and long road to follow, but there are ways to reduce stress and anxiety along the way to sobriety. One such stress reducer is nature, which can play a vital role in promoting positive mental health. Engaging with nature can complement the therapy you’re already receiving in a drug treatment center. The following are some ways to introduce nature into your journey towards recovery.

Move to a less urban city

One major influencer of your mental health is the environment you live in. In a recent Stanford research study of mental health and nature, researchers determined that increasingly urban living spaces can be detrimental to mental health. For example, scientists found that of the population living in urban areas, “city dwellers have a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40 percent higher risk of mood disorders as compared to people in rural areas.” If you think that living in a city may be negatively impacting your treatment, it may be worth considering a move to a less urban city. Even finding a treatment center in a more natural or rural setting can be a major factor in how your journey to recovery goes.

Take a hike

If you can’t afford to move out of the city, it can be just as helpful to spend some time engaging in nature. Taking a hike in a natural park or recreational area can be one way to improve your mental health. A separate study from Stanford supports this in spades, illustrating how spending time in nature produced “clear benefits” in its test subjects. Patients were asked to take a walk in an urban area and others were tasked with hiking through a natural area. Scientists concluded after examining data from both groups that “compared to the urban walk, the nature walk resulted in affective benefits” which included a decrease in anxiety and negative attitudes. When you consider that physical activity and exercise have also been shown to reduce stress, taking a hike is a win-win for reducing stress and improving your mental health.

Develop a green thumb

Another activity shown to improve mental health while also getting in touch with nature is gardening. From reminding you to live in the moment to providing you with a sense of responsibility, there are many reasons you may enjoy gardening. An article for Psychology Today suggests that gardening is also a meditative experience, as “the rhythmic nature of many tasks associated with horticulture — weeding, trimming, sowing, sweeping — allows thoughts to ebb and flow along with our movements.” Caring for other living things is also a helpful reminder about life itself, and allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor if you’re growing vegetables or herbs and love to cook. Even better, gardening can help vent aggression when it comes to digging up soil or de-weeding your garden plot.

If you’re on the road to recovery but could use a simple yet effective way to address feelings of depression or anxiety, spending time in nature could be the secret to success. Countless studies have proven time and time again that spending time in nature can provide you with a deeper sense of calm and a more positive outlook on life. For more advice, click here.