When the pandemic hit in 2020 we all realised just how much we missed the great outdoors once it was taken away from us. Since then interest in research on our mental connection to the natural world has skyrocketed.
So, what are the benefits of being in nature and why does it make us feel good?
Time spent in green spaces has a relaxing effect which reduces cortisol, the primary stress hormone, and lowers our heart rate and blood pressure. Taking only a 15 minute walk through the woods or other natural habitat on a daily basis is enough to make a significant difference to stress levels.
2. Emotional Wellbeing
Forest bathing has also been shown to help us handle our emotions and improve mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. The reduction in cortisol also plays a part here, however, being in nature also promotes a process known as ‘cognitive reappraisal’. This is a process in which in moments of peace, we reframe and reconsider our experiences in a more balanced, reasonable way. This helps us stop catastrophising outcomes and feel more confident in ourselves.
Spending more time out in the natural environment helps us sleep better. Greenspaces promote longer and better quality sleep. When modern life so frequently demands early, coffee-fuelled, mornings and late, screen-staring, nights, it’s no wonder that there’s an epidemic of tiredness. Getting out in nature when and where you can will help you feel more refreshed, and perhaps save you some money on caffeine too!
4. Cognitive function and attention
Frequently viewing beautiful natural environments assists with attention and cognitive function. Regular exposure to natural environments can have a restorative effect on our attention and concentration, and people who live close to green spaces are likely to be quicker at completing cognitive tests than those who live further away from them. So simply living closer to nature helps your cognitive function.
Increased exposure to greenspaces helps us be more sociable. It makes us likely to be more generous, agreeable and empathetic, helping us better understand and interact with others. Greater social awareness and having closer relationships with those we care about is something we should all strive for, to help us enjoy life more.
6. Physical wellbeing
Spending more time outdoors will improve your physical fitness, and particularly in children, playing in nature will help their development in hand-eye coordination and bone structure.
Healthy body, healthy mind, may be a bit of a cliché, but there is a wealth of science which supports the notion that our physical and mental health are intrinsically linked. Improving one, can also improve the other.
If you would like to spend more time getting outdoors into the natural world, then camping is a fantastic way to get that back-to-basics enjoyment of being surrounded by wildlife and beautiful landscapes.
We have 10 campsites around the New Forest, all with their own unique slice of the National Park’s natural beauty. Visit www.campingintheforest.com to book your stay in nature.