As parents, we are no strangers to the ill effects anxiety can have on our lives.
While we are trying to care for our little ones, we are also fighting a constant battle in our minds over insignificant things that cause monumental worry.
Being a parent with anxiety is an exhausting struggle.
Yet, out of the many techniques available to alleviate anxiety, most people never consider connecting with nature to be an option.
It’s been proven that getting outside has a positive effect on the brain and can actually reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
How Nature Affects Your Brain
Normalizes Sleep Patterns
Being outdoors and exposing your body to natural light helps to regulate the body’s melatonin production.
Melatonin is the hormone that controls your inner clock, or “circadian rhythms” – this influences when your body is ready to sleep and when it is ready to wake up.
The pineal gland, which produces the melatonin, is directly affected by natural light. So getting outside into nature will help with your sleep patterns.
Unplugs You From Life
Scientific studies have proven that multitasking on a regular basis leads to stress. There are studies that show how constant access to technology, such as email and social media, can lead to high heart rates.
Going out into a natural environment helps to remove the hustle and bustle of everyday life from the mind.
In nature, you can focus on something calming and relaxing instead of the busyness of life.
Lowers Stress Hormones
Experiencing fresh air and natural light will help lower cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a hormone that is released when you are stressed. It is responsible for our instinctual fight-or-flight response to negative situations.
The peaceful atmosphere of being outside reduces the body’s need to release cortisol and therefore reduces stress.
The Mental Health Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
While getting outside is great for your physical health, it can also do wonders for your mental health. Here are some ways that spending time in nature can benefit your mental health:
- Relieves stress, anxiety and depression.
- Increases energy and improves feelings of vitality and focus.
- Improves sleep quality and helps relieve sleep issues.
- Helps with processing grief and better coping.
- Improved self-awareness and self-concept.
- Positively affects mood.
How to Connect With Nature
Connecting with nature can involve getting outside or bringing the outdoors in.
- Go barefoot. Known as “grounding”, going barefoot in the dirt, grass or sand has a calming effect on the body.
- Take the scenic route. Instead of navigating busy streets to get to your destination, take a detour and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
- Go on a picnic. Instead of eating your lunch or dinner inside, pack it up and take it outside!
- Have walking dates. Grab your coffee and go for a walk with a friend instead of sitting inside. Walking dates are great for play dates too!
- Start a garden. It doesn’t have to be a huge affair – you can start a small veggie patch or even some potted plants.
- Use essential oils. Essential oils come from nature and can easily bring the essence of nature into your home. Try diffusing scents such as pine, geranium or bergamot.
Could It Be That Easy?
Imagine if you could find relief from anxiety simply by stepping foot outside your door. Science seems to think that being outdoors can reduce the effects of anxiety.
You can easily test this theory by heading out for a mind-clearing walk or packing the family up for a picnic.
How do you and your family spend time outside? Let us know in the comments!