People have long known the benefits of being in nature. It's calming, there are funny-looking animals you can point at, and if you're lucky you might find free berries just sitting there waiting to be eaten. In addition to smelling nice and having astounding Instagram potential, nature has great health benefits, as attested to by our good friend: Science.
Being in nature doesn't just encourage people to be healthier by forcing them to climb rocks and sprint from the occasional grumpy mountain lion, though. Research shows just walking among trees and flowers and chipmunks has more positive effects on the brain than walking around manmade structures does. Here are just a couple of the benefits befriending trees has on that brain of yours.
1. People who live in cities have lower levels of stress hormones after being in parks.
Studies have shown people living in urban environments display lower levels of stress hormones after they've been outside than people who haven't do.
2. It helps people focus better.
A Stanford study found people who had walked around a green portion of the campus were more attentive and reported being happier than those who had walked along a highway.
3. It keeps your thinking positive.
In the same study, brain scans showed reduced blood flow in the part of the brain that is responsible most involved with brooding among people who had been around greenery.
4. People who live in rural areas have a lower risk for mental illness.
This appears to be true across income levels.
5. Nature makes you tougher.
Being around nature gives people a sense of vitality that not only helps with emotional obstacles but also makes the body more resilient to physical illness.
6. It can help with feelings of depression.
A study at the University of Essex found 71% of participants who took a walk among trees reported fewer feelings of depression than before the walk. Only 45% of participants who walked around a mall reported feeling better, and 22% of that group said they actually reported more depressive symptoms.
7. There's a Japanese term for the healing effects of the forest
It's called shinrin-yoku, or "forest bathing," and the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture
encourages people to go outside and experience it for stress relief.
8. It helps with self-discipline and impulse control...
This is just part of the cognitive benefits noted in multiple studies.