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17th Jun

2016

The Therapeutic Benefits of Nature

There’s a reason why many of us love taking a walk, watching a beautiful sunset, or having a nice picnic. Exposure to nature and the outdoors correlate to many emotional, mental, and physical benefits, such as improved attention span, lower anxiety, an improved immune system, and more. Nowadays, hospitals make an effort to give patients a view outside their window of trees or other plants because the effect is powerful enough to improve recovery!

Why does nature have this effect on our well-being? One of the predominant theories is the Attention Restoration Theory, developed by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, which asserts that urban environments wear out our brains and demand too much focused attention. Natural environments, on the other hand, are restorative because they give your brain much-needed rest.

In order to experience improved problem solving, time management, decreased stress, and an overall better sense of well-being, try using some of the the following techniques:

  1. Watch a video of something involving nature (or stare out your window). It doesn’t have to be real life for it to be beneficial! Even a video of trees blowing in the wind or fish swimming in the ocean can have similar health benefits to looking at the real thing. Yes, this is permission to stare into space. Your brain needs it!
  2. Go for a walk. Bonus points if you can find a beautiful scenic route to walk.
  3. Listen to nature sounds. Find a white-noise app or video and listen to some birds chirping, water babbling, or maybe wind blowing in the trees.
  4. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Deep breathing, especially the exhale, can provide immediate stress relief. And closing your eyes rests not only your eyes, but also your brain from all of that visual information.
  5. Surround yourself with cool and neutral colors. Blues, purples, greens, and neutral tones are closest to natural colors and are found to be the most soothing colors.
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