Can Nature CALM the Mind?

Nature scene with green tropical plants, words Nature Therapy, Galeano Massage logo

It can be hard to find time to relax in this busy and chaotic world that we all live in. There are many different ways to achieve relaxation but we may only sometimes have the resources or access to these tools.

In general, nature calms the mind due to factors such as sunlight, fresh air, abundant Green Space, sounds of animals and wind, and a sense of order. In nature, we receive physiological benefits such as increased oxygen, lower adrenaline and cortisol, and increased oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. 

You may wonder how nature calms the mind and how you can make the most of the access to nature you have. We will consider how nature calms the mind and reduces feelings of anxiety as well as practical things you can incorporate into your daily routine to maximize what nature can do for you.

How Does Nature Make You Feel?

It’s no secret that nature makes most of us feel calmer. For this reason, many of us will use our vacation time to go to the beach, camping, or skiing in a snowy Mountain. When in nature many of us feel like the weight of the world has been taken off of our shoulders. We no longer worry about work projects, fights with family or friends, and the endless chores of running our home and feeding our family. We feel like we can just focus and notice the beauty that is in front of us.

There is no guarantee, however, that just because we put ourselves in nature, we will benefit from all that it has to give us. I have been to some of the most beautiful natural creations found in Costa Rica and have seen some individuals glued to their phones or so engaged in a conversation that they are oblivious to what’s around them or so focused on where they parked their car or preoccupied in keeping up with a schedule that they have created for the rest of the day, that they fail to benefit from what everyone else around them is enjoying. So sad….

It just goes to show, that just because you have access to the tools you may not benefit from them because in the end how you use the tool is completely up to you. It takes a conscious effort to notice the present. How nature makes you feel depends on how you feel about nature.

Why Nature is So Relaxing

Some of us have noticed a pattern with a certain activity in nature resulting in a sense of relaxation, energy, and optimism. Thus, we began to question why this is so. Science has been and continues to study the effect of the natural world on our bodies and Minds. It’s cool to know that what we feel is not imagined but is backed by science!

Here’s how nature can have a calming effect on our minds:

  • Direct Sun Exposure
  • Sounds of Animals
  • Sounds of Wind breezing through Plants
  • Color Therapy from the Plants, Sky, and Wildlife
  • Connection with the Earth’s Magnetic Field
  • Observation of Order in Nature
  • Observation of Safety of Plant and Animals
  • Feeling of Texture when we Walk on the Ground, touch Plants or Animals
  • Nurture of Relationship’s when we Enjoy Nature with Others

Here’s what happens when we expose ourselves to nature: 

  • Increased Oxygen
  • Reduce Cortisol
  • Reduce Adrenaline
  • Exposure to microbes that contribute to our Microbiome
  • Regulation of the Circadian rhythm
  • Increased Melatonin
  • Increased Dopamine
  • Increased Serotonin
  • Increased Oxytocin
  • Stimulation of Nerve Cell Receptors
  • Decreased Inflammation 
  • Increased Focus and attention

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, some of our most basic and prominent needs are for rest, to feel safe, to have nurturing relationships that make us feel like we belong, and to feel like we are reaching our creative potential. These are things that happen to us when we spend time out in nature with others, without the distractions of the modern world, which can help us to spark our creativity and make goals that will help us to achieve them. 

Pyramid triangle of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Self-Actualization (achieving one's full potential including creative activities, Self-Esteem Needs (feelings of accomplishment), Belongingness and Love (intimate relationships and friends), Safety Needs (security, safety), Physiological Needs (food, water, warmth, rest), Galeano Massage logo.
Maslow’s Pyramid of the Hierarchy of Needs

Ways to Benefit from Nature More Often

There are so many ways that we can enjoy the benefits of nature more often in our busy lives. Taking an expensive vacation may be the thing that comes to mind first but that would happen so infrequently because of the cost, planning, and disruption it causes to our lives. My goal is to give you some practical things you can start to implement right now to benefit from the calming effects of nature.

Starter ideas on how to get nature into your life more often:

  • When you wake up in the morning, sit outside in a chair to drink your coffee or tea and observe the sun, sky, trees, and birds, while taking in deep breaths of fresh morning air
  • Go for a weekend camping trip with friends
  • Go for a swim in the lake river or ocean
  • If you live near a river or beach, take 15 minutes during the work week to go sit on the bank or in the sand and just watch the water sky and the birds and animals
  • Go for a 20-minute hike or walk in the woods (preferably with a companion or some sort of safety device)
  • Take your shoes off, stand or walk barefoot on clean ground for 20 to 30 minutes
  • Bringing nature indoors with potted plants
  • Heading to your car, take 2 minutes, go near a tree and touch the trunk and the leaves and notice the color, texture, and smell
  • On your lunch break from work, take your lunch outside and sit on a bench or on a green grassy area to eat lunch, instead of staying indoors

So yes, nature does have a calming effect on the mind that benefits the whole body. It doesn’t have to be difficult to receive these benefits but it does mean that we need to unplug from the modern world, its distractions, its worries, and its devices.


MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a trained qualified physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Galeano Massage nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, or supplements or those diagnosed with a medical illness should consult their physicians before implementing any of the self-care advice in this article.


Sarah

I've been practicing Massage Therapy since 2014. I'm a health and wellness enthusiast. I'm always learning and experimenting with different techniques, recipes, and healing modalities. I believe that we need to approach health and wellness from a WHOLE-listic point of view and understand that it will constantly be changing and is never stagnant. We are all unique and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another person. As I grow, change, and experiment I will share what I have learned as it may help someone else in need.

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