Nature: A Prescription to Improving Health & Mental Wellness
Updated: Sep 7, 2021
Many of us enjoy a sunny day. Whether it’s the natural light, the chance to enjoy a favorite outdoor activity, or the opportunity to soak up some Vitamin D, a beautiful day can bring a smile to our faces.
Beyond the joy it can bring, spending time in greenery or adding nature into your everyday life can benefit your mental and physical well-being.
As we enter the summer season, Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries wants to highlight the positive impacts that nature can have on our health and wellness. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for improving mental health, spending time outside can enhance our physical health, reconnect us with the natural world, and remind us to focus on the positive.
Good for the Body
While you may know that the sun is a natural source of Vitamin D, you may not be aware of the benefits of this vitamin. According to White Plains Hospital, “Vitamin D is essential for bone growth, regulates your immune system and can help battle depression. An estimated 40% of U.S. men and women are vitamin D deficient, which can lead to osteoporosis, cancer, heart attacks, and strokes.”
Fortunately, you don’t need a hot, sunny day to feel good outside! Fresh air generally has higher levels of oxygen compared to indoor air. “Exposure to more oxygen causes the blood vessels in your lungs to dilate, which improves cleansing and tissue repair within them, and helps them exchange gases more easily (liwli.com).” Spending time outside can help clean your lungs and get rid of things your body doesn’t need so that you can breathe easy!
Good for the Mind
For many of us, being outdoors can help us feel calmer and more focused. In fact, spending more time in nature has been linked to “higher levels of concentration, creativity, and improved mental clarity. The attention-improving effect of nature is so strong it has been studied as a method of treating kids with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and asthma (wphospital.org).”
For those experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety, research has found that nature can “disconnect” us from our worries and concerns. “According to Registered Psychologist Dr. Lynne M. Kostiuk, humans need to feel connected to the natural world. She says being outside helps us tune back into ourselves. This could be because we don’t have as much stimuli around us. With fewer things calling for our attention, we relax (luminohealth.sunlife.ca).”
Good for the Spirit
Connecting with nature reminds us to take a step back from our day-to-day lives and reevaluate our priorities. It allows us to become better at saying “no” to activities and commitments that fill our calendars but leave our souls empty. Nature helps us reconnect with our values.
“In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him…The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” – Psalm 95:4-5
“When we take time to go out into creation, we’re inevitably reminded of our Creator in new ways as we experience the power of a thunderstorm, the stillness of a meadow, and the delight of a wildflower. Nature preaches a fine sermon about the very character of God without saying a single word (crosswalk.com).”
Whether summer, spring, winter, or fall, Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries encourages you to find reasons to spend time outside and reinvigorate your mind, body, and soul.
While nature can positively impact your mental health, we are here to support you on your journey. Through Temperament Therapy, we work with you to identify healthy strategies to meet your needs and manage your emotions.