The Power of Nature: Boosting Mental Health and Wellbeing

Summer is around the corner, the weather is improving, and it’s time to get outdoors! You may have heard of how getting outside with the power of nature can boost our mental health. Some facilities are already including nature therapy in their treatment for anxiety and depression…But are there any other advantages? This is the question we’d like to investigate in today’s blog!


Provides a Multi-Sensory Experience.


Getting outdoors provides a multi-sensory experience through exposure to different textures, colours, smells and sounds. One study specifically explores the link between the sense of smell and improved well-being. They highlight how nature has a positive effect on us, with aromatherapy as an example, as it utilises plant fragrances and natural extracts as a form of stress relief. There is also the existence of sensory gardens, these can be especially beneficial for those with visual and hearing difficulties because they focus on stimulating all the senses. In the same study, they discovered that generally natural aromas have more positive associations; summer air and the smells of herbs and beeswax are associated with happiness. They also found that the sense of smell can be effective in helping people with dementia as it can unlock memories, giving them the opportunity to reminisce.


An Escape From Modern Life!


The Parasympathetic nervous system is the opposite of the part of the body which causes your fight or flight response and instead, causes the relaxation of your body after this period of stress. Being around nature can help activate this part of our system by providing an escape from the stresses of modern life.


Space to Socialise.


Loneliness is also a significant factor that can affect our well-being across all ages. Being in nature can normally provide an open space for people to socialise and take part in physical activities, this helps create a sense of community and escape the harmful pollution present in the cities. This not only benefits our mental health but also our physical health, with evidence suggesting that the outdoors can even improve our immune response!


There are lots of benefits, but the main challenge is…is it accessible?


If a person has issues with mobility or needs special care, getting outdoors may be easier said than done. People living in urban areas where there is a lack of green space may not get the same benefits as those who do. Here are some proposed solutions:


Ensure Well Maintained Paths in Parks


In terms of accessibility for those with mobility issues, ensuring well-maintained paths in parks and green spaces could be a solution. There is even research into virtual reality, to replicate nature in someone’s home which could be a game changer for those too ill to leave their home or even for those who just don’t live near these spaces.


Using Technology to Replicate the Affects of Nature in Indoor and Urban Settings


The same study looking at the impact of smells, suggests whether replicating natural smells in urban environments might replicate the positive effects. However, a challenge for this and virtual reality is knowing and replicating the specific characteristics in nature which provide us with these benefits as well, as meeting each individual’s needs.


Inspired? Here are some ideas for activities to get you or your residents outdoors this summer!


  • Walking
  • Picnics
  • Fruit Picking
  • Gardening
  • Bird Watching
  • Photography
  • Reading
  • Outdoor craft – flower pressing, rock painting, collage.


Do you have more to say? Did you find this helpful? Let us know!

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