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Spending time in nature enhances your cognitive function as well as your mental health.

If you’re looking for a way to sharpen your senses and improve your mental health, get outside and enjoy nature. Time spent in the great outdoors, away from the stresses of the city, work, home and everyday life, can do wonders for your brain and your mood.

Many studies have shown that spending time in nature enhances memory, improves focus, relieves stress and reduces blood pressure, cortisol levels and heart rate. Taking a break from your usual routine and being surrounded by a natural environment can help boost mood, improve sleep, ease anxiety, lower depression and promote happiness. And since most people are naturally active when they’re in a natural environment, you’re also more likely to reap the health benefits physical activity provides.

You don’t need to pack up your car and head to the hills to enjoy these benefits. Although getting away from a city or urban location is a nice respite, you’ll benefit from spending time in nature by being anywhere that has some green space. It can be a park, a hiking trail, a garden or anywhere with a natural environment or views of greenery.

Research has shown that having green spaces near schools in urban environments promotes cognitive development in children. When there are green spaces near homes, it encourages self-control behaviors in children. Even adults in public housing units had better attentional functioning if they had more access to natural environments in their neighborhoods. This shows that being exposed to nature does more than just boost your mood – it boosts your brain function.

Adults and adolescents spend over 90 percent of their time indoors and more than seven hours a day looking at screens. But with so many good reasons to enjoy the great outdoors and reap the benefits of being in a natural environment, don’t you think it’s worth finding ways to do so?

Here are a few ways to spend more time in nature:
  • Take breaks outside – You don’t have to take the day off to enjoy more nature. Simply spend a few minutes whenever you can going outside. Take a walk, eat a meal outdoors, listen to the birds or watch the clouds go by.
  • Visit nature sites – Can’t get to a mountain for a hike or a rambling stream to cast your fishing rod? Most urban areas have natural areas to enjoy such as parks, zoos and public gardens. You just have to get out and find them.
  • Plan an outdoor getaway – The next time you’re planning a trip, make it to someplace where you can be in touch with nature. Head to a mountain, lake, beach or national park. Go hiking, camping, fishing, rock climbing, canoeing, star-gazing or simply spend time strolling around and enjoying all there is to see.

There are many benefits to spending more time outdoors. Instead of watching videos of other people getting in touch with nature, think about turning off your phone and experiencing the beauty of green spaces and natural environments on your own. It’s good for your brain, your body, your mood and your soul.

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Date Last Reviewed: April 19, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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