“Being Close to Nature Can Heal the Mind”

Have you ever asked yourself how nature can heal the mind?
Have you ever asked yourself how nature can heal the mind?

How can nature help heal a broken mind?

Have you ever asked yourself how nature can heal the mind? There is plenty of research that shows a strong correlation between outdoor activity and reduced stress, anxiety, and even depression. But there is also a clear link between people who spend time in nature and overall happiness. A recent interview with Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, proves just how much of an effect nature can have on the mind:

Can nature benefit mental health?

Dr. Jason Strauss: “Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry.”

Research shows people feel closer to nature, are more connected to the world around them with greater feelings of self-worth. These findings were found in all age groups from teenagers up until retirement age. A study of women from all over the world, regardless of their ethnicity or place of residence found that women who lived in natural environments reported feeling better about themselves and being less stressed than those who didn’t have access to nature.

Being outside in a forest can reduce stress by up to 68%! (and reduce cortisol levels by lowering your heart rate).

For your mind to truly benefit from nature, how long would you say is needed to be outdoors?

Dr. Jason Strauss: “Anything from 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week, to regular three-day weekends in the woods is helpful. The point is to make your interactions a part of your normal lifestyle.”

Who are most likely to benefit from spending more time outdoors?

All can benefit from this. However, “Many men are at higher risk for mood disorders as they age, from dealing with sudden life changes like health issues, the loss of loved ones, and even the new world of retirement, they may not want to turn to medication or therapy for help, and for many, interacting with nature is one of the best self-improvement tools they can use. Nature can have a powerful effect on our mental state, and there are many ways to tap into it.”

All of us here at allforyourmind.com have spoken at great length regarding the benefits of outdoor activity. Clearly, we are all different and what works for some may not work for others. Anyone who suffers from anxiety, depression, or anything else should consider spending time around nature. As breathing in the fresh air and freeing their mind from the daily stresses that we all face.

A 2015 study compared the brain activity of healthy people after they walked for an hour and a half in either a natural setting (like a park or a field) or around the city. They found that those who spent time outdoors in a natural setting had much lower stress levels and even lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during contemplation — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.

Dr. Jason Strauss: “When people are depressed or under high levels of stress, this part of the brain malfunctions, and people experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts,”

It’s not just the mind that benefits from spending time outdoors, there are many other therapeutic benefits. Spending time with nature and enjoying the natural sounds from the wind and rustling leaves can actually lower blood pressure and stress levels.

Final thoughts on the benefits that nature can bring to our mind

The growing trend of people flooding to cities means fewer and fewer people are spending time outside. I think we can all agree that concrete jungles are not made with the intention of helping us relax—in fact it’s quite the opposite; a very high percentage of people who live in cities say they feel stressed to the point of feeling anxious. Have a look at our top 5 anxiety tips to help you manage stress right away.

It can be hard to find time for nature when living in a city. But even pictures of nature and having plants at home can have massive impacts on our stress levels.


Because of all this, we encourage everyone to go and spend time outdoors. Doing this is important especially if you suffer from depression or anxiety. And remember to focus on enjoying nature, so try not to listen to music while taking a walk. Try and free your mind from any negative thoughts and listen to the wind and leaves. And if for whatever reason you can’t find time to go outdoors as often as you’d like, just listening to nature sounds or looking at pictures of nature can have a similar soothing effect on your mind. Find out how plants can help with mild depression, and check out our top 6 suggestions for dealing with anxiety and lowering stress.