How spending more time in nature could transform your mental wellness


Stop and smell the roses. Literally. Spending time outdoors and bringing greenery into your life could affect your daily mood. In fact, a Stanford University study found that spending more time outdoors could actually decrease your risk for depression. So, slip on your favorite sunnies and get out there. 

In the long-term, incorporating time in nature can be a healthy habit to stay on top of your mental health. It can also be a great way to recenter in hot moments. According to the University of Minnesota, 95% of participants in a study saw improvement in their mood after spending time outside, helping them transition from stressed and anxious to calm and centered. Next time you are feeling stressed, step out for a walk—it may work wonders. 

There’s good news for city-dwellers, too: a study out of the University of British Columbia found that man-made greenery also had a positive affect on people’s mood. For example, something as simple as trees at city bus stops can increase mental wellness. So, pay attention to the world around you—notice trees, flowers, and greenery anywhere they may be. 

Nature abounds everywhere. Here are a few ways to make the most of it:

  • Hit the beach. Greenery is great, and water can be just as beneficial. A study at Michigan State University found that seeing the color blue—especially in bodies of water—is associated with lower levels of psychological distress. Plus, science says just the feeling of sand on your toes can help you relax. We know every body is a beach body. So, grab your sandals and a towel and hit the beach this summer. 

  • Practice mindfulness. Notice the changes in nature around you. Maybe new flowers are blooming on your morning commute, or maybe you love the smell of rain. Pay attention to the ways nature shows up in your life every single day. 

  • No more sad desk lunch. Forget mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or squeezing in the one extra email while eating lunch at your desk. Instead, capitalize on the stress-reducing benefits of the great outdoors and take your lunch break outdoors. Even a few minutes can help you reset and be your most productive for the rest of the day. 

  • Socialize outside. Making plans for the weekend? Find ways to take your social life outside. A Harvard Health study found that group time outside was just as effective in improving overall mental wellness as solo time outside. Maybe you can assemble a group of pals for a picnic, catch an outdoor concert or hit up your favorite rooftop. 

  • Sweat in the sun. There’s nothing better than sneaking into a hot, sweaty, indoor yoga class in the frigid winter. Skip the artificial heat in the summer and take your sweat sessions outside. Try going for a walk through a new neighborhood, going for a bike ride, or taking the plunge at a pool and swim some laps.