From a stroll through a city park to a day spent hiking in the wilderness, exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lowered stress, better mood and upticks in empathy and happiness.
Why does spending time in nature serve as a balm for our busy brains? Researchers have a couple of explanations. The stress-reduction hypothesis posits that spending time in nature triggers a physiological response that lowers stress levels. That’s because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water and other elements of nature engrossing. We are absorbed by nature scenes and are soothed by them. Attention restoration theory holds that nature replenishes one’s cognitive resources, restoring the ability to concentrate and pay attention.
One of the most intriguing areas of current research is the impact of nature on mental wellbeing specifically. In one study conducted by Mind, a mental health organization based in the United Kingdom, 95 percent of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed and anxious to calm and balanced. Given nature’s ability to boost wellbeing, it’s no wonder many spa resorts are located in beautiful outdoor settings. But for clients needing a re-introduction to Mother Nature, opt for a place with an emphasis on outdoor activity that includes a mental wellness component.
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