Spending Quality Time in Nature: Does It Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

Stress and Anxiety

Do you ever feel more relaxed, focused, or calmer outside? A little dose of nature or “vitamin N” does wonders if well harnessed. Several studies prove that spending time outdoors benefits your mental health. What you hear, see, and experience in nature can enhance your mood significantly.

Stress and anxiety are common occurrences that typically lower the quality of life. While there are many remedies, nature’s antidote is priceless. Some folks enjoy refreshing nature walks, forest baths, or bird watching. Others prefer to be more hands-on by growing weed seeds from The Seed Fair or trimming flowers.

No matter your approach, don’t dwell on stress and anxiety too long. It could trigger chain reactions, taking you from irritability to insomnia in days. The good news is that you can liberate yourself from patterns of mental distress.

Explore the diverse ways nature offers to ease anxious thoughts and stress.

How Severe Are Stress and Anxiety?

Are stress and anxiety similar? No, there’s a fine line between them, as they’re both emotional responses.

Stress arises from an external trigger that may be short-term or long-term. It leads to physical and mental symptoms like irritability, fatigue, or muscle pain. Common causes include:

  • Work deadlines

  • Conflict with a loved one

  • Discrimination

  • Inability to work

  • Chronic illness

Anxiety is a persistent worry that doesn’t disappear even without a stressor. Its symptoms almost resemble those of stress. They range from difficulty sleeping, irritability, and fatigue to muscle tension.

Did you know anxiety disorders affect over 300 million people globally? Surprisingly, they’re also the most common mental condition in the USA. Nearly 40 million American adults experience stress and anxiety.

What’s the solution? Common coping mechanisms for mild anxiety and stress include:

  • Physical activity

  • Nutritious and dynamic diet

  • Quality sleep hygiene

  • Minimizing alcohol and tobacco intake

  • Journaling

These methods don’t always work for everyone. How should you handle stubborn stress and anxiety? Try spending quality time in nature. Are the results any better?

Can Spending Time in Nature Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

Some studies show that exposure to green spaces and natural environments reduces stress. While levels of nature may differ, the outcome is almost always positive.

Other research reviews say that a 20-minute break in nature can relieve stress. In other words, taking time out with nature may lower stress hormones (cortisol). Nature also boosts dopamine production and endorphin levels, promoting happiness.

Below are five ways to reduce stress and anxiety in nature’s company.

1. Hunt for Flowers

As trivial as this task sounds, it helps ward off negative energy. It adds an explorative angle to your outdoor strolls. Aim to find specific flowers in your walk. Hunt for them at the roadside, in a neighbor’s front yard, or inside a park.

Pluck the flowers, inspect them, and then touch and smell them. This sequence could be therapeutic as you appreciate every tiny detail. Your mind is fully engaged, leaving no room for distressing thoughts. You get to focus on the present moment and blur anxiety.

2. Sun Exposure

A little sunshine goes a long way in keeping stress, anxiety, and depression at bay. Sun exposure improves mood by promoting more serotonin production. This chemical is crucial in mental focus, helping you stay calm and happy. Lack of enough serotonin may cause anxiety and depression.

Sun exposure also alleviates stress and anxiety by helping you sleep better. Sunshine influences your melatonin circadian rhythm. Melatonin is a hormone that induces sleep. Natural light tells your body when to increase or decrease this hormone’s levels.

What’s the best posture? Try channeling the sun’s warmth on your face and enjoy the graceful flow to your body.

3. Explore the Woods

Venture into the woods for a walk and get distracted by the tranquil atmosphere. Indulge in forest bathing to release the piled pressure from within. This relaxation exercise sets you in a calm posture to de-stress while taking deep breaths. Maintain pin-drop silence among the trees. Observe the surrounding nature, and appreciate its splendor.

Soak deeper into nature and listen to its diverse sounds. Do you hear the wind hissing through the trees? Can you discern the roaring waterfall from a distance? Are there birds singing around you? The more you immerse into these melodies, the deeper your mind gets connected.

4. Work Out Outdoors

Transfer your workout routine outside to leverage nature’s therapy. Regular exercises in natural settings could effectively lift mood disorders. Outdoor physical activity can lower the risk of mental health issues by up to 50%. Cycling, jogging, walking, or doing yoga in nature may make you happier than in an urban area.

5. Go Camping

A camping trip allows you to soak into nature for longer. You get to absorb the therapeutic benefits of nature better than at home. Spending enough time away from your stressful routine almost reconfigures your environment. It’s a safe space to heal, reset, and redefine your goals for optimal functioning.

There Is No Better Way to Beat Stress and Anxiety

Is recurring stress and anxiety affecting your quality of life? Most people experience a sense of calm and joy by being in nature, so can you. Scientists believe giving patients a view of the forest from a hospital bed can revive them. Even 20 minutes in nature is enough to reverse the symptoms of stress and anxiety.

There are endless things to do in nature. You can observe what it offers as you meditate or indulge in its vast playfield. Activities like forest bathing could improve your mood. Flower picking keeps your mind active and emotions engaged. The beauty of nature is that it’s everywhere. Sit in your yard or the local park if you can’t access the woods, oceans, or mountains.

The bottom line? There’s always something you can do to explore the holistic benefits of nature.

READ MORE: Mood-Boosting Foods: 5 Healthy Ingredients to Uplift Your Mood