A gorgeous photo of nature - tree on top of a cliff next to the ocean. A great depiction of what to think about when thinking of "nature wellness."

Nature Wellness: Get Outside for Your Health

Last Updated on March 19, 2024 by Kathryn

What is Nature Wellness?

Experiencing “nature wellness” is an important piece of our overall wellness.

You might be wondering, what is Nature Wellness? Nature wellness is simply spending time in nature, along with a mindfulness about our relationship to nature. This does wonders for our mental and physical health.

While in undergrad, I studied Environmental Psychology and learned about all the amazing things that being outside can do to our mind and bodies. Pair that with my natural love for loving the outdoors in general, and I’ve become passionate about getting outside and helping others to do the same.

I love nature for me and my family! We get outside as often as possible. It’s a great way for us to not only take advantage of nature’s health benefits, but also a great way for us to connect without screens or other distractions.

A woman walking down a dirt mountain path. The sky is bright blue and there are pine trees on the right side.
Out for a hike in the Wasatch Mountains.

Mental Health Benefits of Nature

What’s so great about the outdoors? Nature has so many positive effects on mental health, but these are my favorite, for myself and my kids:

  • Sleep Soundly. Sleep quality improves with time outside. As someone who doesn’t always sleep great, this is a big one for me. I especially notice that when I travel and change time zones, getting some sunlight helps me to adjust better.
  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety. Get outside and those cortisol levels will drop. Whenever I sense that I’m feeling anxious, I get outside and walk and walk and walk. I’ve noticed a tangible feeling of calm as I’m extra mindful of what I see and sense.
  • Improved Attention. It’s a natural “refresh”. If you’re losing focus at work or home, pop outside for a few minutes (and leave your phone and headphones inside) and your attention will be restored. Even standing outside on the front porch and feeling the sun on my face will rejuvenate me.
  • Think Better. Yes, your brain (or cognitive function, as experts call it) will work better! Kids who live with nature nearby have better brain function and adults have better memory.
  • Community Connection. I personally feel more connected with my community when I get outside, whether that be for a run around the block or taking my kids to a local playground. When I walk or bike instead of drive, I’ll notice so much more, and I also get a social boost when I run into neighbors.
  • More Mindfulness. By engaging your senses – hear a bird, smell a humid day, see the clouds move – you become more mindful of your surroundings. You’ll become more connected with yourself and the earth. 
A mountain view from a hotel room in Courmayeur, Italy.

Physical Health Benefits of Nature

  • Physical Activity. Being in nature naturally lends itself to more physical activity, and all the good stuff that comes along with it (more muscle strength and better heart health are my favorites). I’ve been tracking my steps lately, and it’s a LOT easier to hit 10,000 when I spend a bit of time outside.
  • Improved Immunity. Being near trees boosts our immune system! (I probably should have spent more time in the forest this past winter – it was a rough one.) Not everyone has trees near their home, so try to find a place with trees that you can regularly go to. While living in a busy part of Boston, one of my favorite places to feel immersed in nature was the Forest Hills Cemetery. 
  • More Energy. The next time you’re feeling tired, go outside for a few minutes to get a bit more energy. If I don’t sleep well the night before, I always try to go for a quick brisk walk to get a little burst of energy. Better yet, if you can fit in a hike in the mountains, then go for that.
  • Nature Heals. All of these nature wellness benefits work together to result in a body that is healthy and heals well.
A nature path with purple spring flowers on a tree.
Immerse yourself in nature!

How Much Nature Wellness Do We Need?

What counts as nature? As with many things, more is better. Studies tell us to aim for spending two hours per week outside.

That’s just 17 minutes per day! Think that you can’t fit that in? That’s just one short walk outside to break up your day. Or, when you need a break, consider putting your phone down and going outside for a few minutes. 

While it’s always a good idea to get outside for fresh air, sometimes it’s tough with the weather or on very busy days. So, bring nature inside! A few potted plants or fresh flowers will give you some of nature’s health benefits. Also, take a minute to gaze out the window and see if you feel any different.

Get Outside!

You can do it! Take some time today to go outside and notice how you feel. Find a nature “refuge” near your home to connect with nature and experience nature wellness.

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