The Benefits of Nature for Mental Health

The Benefits of Nature for Mental Health

Here at Adventures Under the Sun, being in nature is central to all of our activities. Over the many years we’ve been curating and guiding excursions all over Costa Rica, we’ve noticed the profound positive effects of nature on our guests and on ourselves.

And apparently, we’re not alone!

Nature and Mental Health: Research

Research into the connection between time in nature and better mental health has increased in recent years, and the results show a positive correlation between nature and green exercise (exercise done in the outdoors) with improvements to mental health.

A recent study of the mental health benefits of nature concluded that subjects who exercised outdoors experienced increased motivation, an increase in enjoyment and feelings of escapism. They also found a significant social and entertainment value to being outdoors, as outdoor activities can often involve others and even groups of individuals.

A separate UK study found that both men and women participants reported a boost to their self esteem after engaging in outdoor activities. It also found evidence of positive long and short term health outcomes.

A third study further confirmed that exercising in nature can lead to increased feelings of positivity, energy, and revitalization, and decreased tension, anger, depression, and confusion.

This study stated that compared to those who exercised indoors, their “green exercise” participants had reductions in feelings of stress and depression, and all reported spikes in satisfaction and enjoyment in their activity. Furthermore, participants had a greater desire than their indoor counterparts to repeat the activity again in the future.

Benefits of Nature on Mental Health

Hikers enjoying the mental health benefits of fresh air and sunshine
Hikers enjoying the mental health benefits of fresh air and sunshine.

Tree to lung: clean, pure and fresh air. Getting fresh air, full of oxygen and free from city pollutants, cleans and refreshes the lungs, and also oxygenates the blood and muscles.

Vitamin D: the mood-booster we all needSunshine (as long as you wear sunscreen) is full of vitamin D and helps to release serotonin, which is a natural mood-booster that lasts for hours.

Low-level problem solving: the key to flowWalking or running over varied terrain keeps the mind and body engaged and in a low pressure problem solving state, which leads to a state of flow, where you’re fully immersed and energized by the task at hand.

Home at lastMaybe most important of all, humans are animals, and nature is our true home. Regardless of our perspective and life history, nature awakens something in each of us that connects us with our deeper self.

Embracing nature and incorporating “nature baths” in your life.

The Japanese have a beautiful term for walking in the woods: forest bathing. “Shinrin-yoku” is an expression of how immersive nature can be when you enter its world. In fact, “park prescriptions,” or prescribing walks in nature for better health, also originated in Asia.

We can all incorporate more “shinrin-yoku” in our lives by taking nature breaks whenever we can.

Tuning in to the quiet.

A nature bath can be a five-minute break listening to the birds in your backyard, or it can be a week-long adventure in the Costa Rican rain forest. And everything in between.

The key difference is being conscious of your time in nature, tuning in to the quiet and letting your mind, body and spirit relax and take in all that nature has to offer: the views, the sounds, the smells, and the rhythm of nature, which is quieter and softer than our everyday screeching of cars and sirens echoing off city buildings.

The solace of nature is a healthy alternativeThe solace of nature is a healthy alternative to our 24/7 digital lifestyle.

Plan short outings often.

If you’re lucky enough to walk out your front door and onto a lawn, into a garden, into a patch of woods or across a field, then incorporating more nature into your daily life will be far easier. But even if you have to hop in the car and drive a little, it’s worth it – connecting with nature will raise your energy and your mood, and is worth your time.

Try one of AUSUN's Adventure Expeditions for TeensTry one of AUSUN’s Adventure Expeditions for Teens

Ready for more? Try an adventure in Costa Rica!

At AUSUN, we strongly believe in the healing power of the great outdoors. It’s our mission to get people outside connecting with nature and, for us, the great beauty of Costa Rica.

Want to experience nature on a whole new level? Adventures Under the Sun plans and curates trips for teen groups,friends & family groups and other trips to immerse yourself in all that Costa Rica has to offer.

Our Guanacaste Adventure for teens ages 13 – 16 will cast off January 10 for five fun-filled days of adventure spent surfing, fishing, hiking, and camping riverside and on the beach. Join us! Learn more by clicking here.