Recently some studies have suggested that having a connection to nature is important for your mental health. One study reported that people who visit natural spaces often report feeling better physically and mentally. In addition to this possible positive influence, there are some public health benefits too. People who make weekly visits to natural spaces are more likely to help conservation efforts (like picking up trash or recycling). This leaves a positive mark on the planet in addition to the personal experience that somebody may get from having visits in nature. When I first saw these studies, I did not really think that they were legit but then I really thought about it…I do not make frequent visits to any natural sites, but I have in the past. For example, I have visited Starved Rock National Park a handful of times and every time I have gone, I feel my stress level decreasing. After walking through nature for over an hour I can say that I did feel significantly happier and overall more content physically and mentally. As I thought about these times, I realized that each one of my visits to starved rock was in the springtime. Coincidentally, spring is my favorite season out of the year. This could be because I have feelings of stress relief and happiness connected to the season because of the natural visits that I have gone on in the past. After thinking about my own experience, I do think that these findings are actually important and useful for people struggling with mental health and for all people in general. Another study found that people who have live plants in their workplace experience less stress while working than those who do not have live plants. The study suggests that the mere sight of a live plant can have a stress relieving effect on us. This is just another correlation between nature (plants) and mental wellbeing. So, how can we figure out if these studies are actually accurate? We need to try what they are suggesting! Sometime in the near future, just plan a short walk outside somewhere where you can just take in the beauty of nature and just be aware of how you are feeling during this time and after. If you feel better in any way, then maybe natural visits are important to your wellbeing! More easily, go purchase an indoor plant to put in your workplace or a place where you spend a lot of time! Plants are cute decorations, and who knows…maybe it will even make you feel better!
If nature makes you feel happier and healthier, then consider picking up trash while you are taking it all in! Even picking up one small bottle off of the ground can make a difference for the planet. Helping preserve the planet will ensure that future generations will be able to experience nature positively and this may be detrimental to their physical and mental health in the future!