Why a Dose of Nature Is Essential to Your Mental Health

Discover nature's secret to improve our wellbeing.

By Google Arts & Culture

Johns Hopkins International Arts + Mind Lab

Trees and undergrowth (July 1887 - 1887) by Vincent van GoghVan Gogh Museum

Connecting to Nature

When was the last time you went out and soaked up some nature? Even in pre-pandemic times, most American adults spent 93% of their time indoors. Now, with social distancing requirements in place, the time we spend at home and inside has only increased. But during this stressful time, our connection to nature is more important than ever for maintaining our mental health and wellbeing.

Sleeping Nymph (1822) by Antonio CanovaMuseum Gipsoteca Antonio Canova

The Great Outdoors Are Good for You—Naturally

Nature experiences are associated with many benefits like better moods, less anxiety and obsessive thinking, and positive social interactions with neighbors.

What is nature’s secret? It may come down to nature’s ability to improve our sleep quality and lower stress. These improvements to our underlying biology may account for the growing evidence that nature experiences can prevent the development of mental illnesses

Forest Therapy: Mountain Violets (2019/2019)Original Source: GIAHS Takachihogo-Shiibayama Site

Getting Your Regular Dose of Green

The dose of nature matters: the more green you get, the better your health outcomes. One study found that visiting outdoor green spaces for at least 30 minutes per week was associated with reduced rates of depression and high blood pressure.

A walk through nature is restorative and therapeutic, as renowned neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks explained.

Design engineer harvests lettuce from an aeroponic vertical farm. Indoor farms provide food security and sustainable agricultural practices. (2020-06-05) by thisisengineeringMuseum of Engineering Innovation

Enjoying Nature from the Comfort of Home

The pandemic has made it more challenging to get outside. Fortunately, you can still reap nature’s benefits from home. Gardening is one way of going green closer to home.

One study found that gardening for 30 minutes reduces stress, cortisol levels, and improves mood. Extended exposure to gardening has been successfully incorporated in a rehabilitation program for patients with severe stress and depression in Sweden.

Transplants (Euphorbia, Monstera, Sansevieria) Transplants (Euphorbia, Monstera, Sansevieria) (2019) by Abdul-Rahman AbdullahIslamic Museum of Australia

If you don’t have space for a garden, you can also bring nature and its benefits directly into your home. Potted plants, windows with a view of nature, or art depicting landscapes, has been found to improve mood, restore attention, decrease stress, and diminish fatigue. 

Direct sunlight exposure in the workplace (which, for many of us, is now our homes) has been found to improve job satisfaction and decrease depressed mood and anxiety. 

And perhaps unexpectedly, technology can also help you get your nature fix. While virtual experiences of nature are no substitute for the real thing, they are a viable option for people lacking access or mobility. 

Roses (1890) by Vincent van GoghNational Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Learn More

Indoors or out, nature is good for your mind, provided you make time for it. Learn more about the health benefits of nature and how to get your daily dose of green here.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps