As the long summer days start drawing to a close, it is common to feel an increase in anxiety or depression. In today’s article, we are hoping to encourage you to continue getting out there and soaking up all nature has to offer. Trees, believe it or not, are a power source of positivity and we want you to feel the benefits.
Trees and Wellbeing: Our Mental Health
Decreased Presence of Anxiety and Depression
Of course, we are not suggesting Trees are the magic cure to freeing yourself of Anxiety, Depression, or any other mental health condition. However, countless studies have been conducted, all over the world, demonstrating a 4% alleviation of symptoms when immersed in green space.
An Improvement in Mood: Dress for Less Stress
Getting outside in nature usually involves a little light exercise, such as walking. We know exercise in itself is a proven mood enhancer. Even a short walk can trigger a decrease in levels of the hormone cortisol, a known associate of stress. So where do trees come into it?
Trees emit plant compounds known as phytoncides. These remarkable composites contain anti-bacterial and anti-fungal matter that protect our environment from disease.
It is lesser-known to the public that phytoncides also have an incredible impact on us humans. From boosting our immune system to improving mood or attention span; even lowering blood pressure. Breathing in phytoncides as we walk works wonders. So be sure to grab your coat and get out for an autumn stroll!
The more trees the merrier! Whether you take a moment to relax in your garden, or adventure out for a woodland walk, you will feel the benefit. However, taking a moment to truly immerse yourself in a wooded area can significantly increase a feeling of wellbeing, and even help you get a better nights sleep!
An Improvement in Mindfulness: Relax and Reflect
Even the sight of trees can positively influence our state of mind. This reaction occurs as a restorative response and isn’t something we consciously control. Ever heard of something called the parasympathetic nervous system?
To put it simply, the parasympathetic nervous system is a subdivision of the central nervous system (located in the brain) that has the ability to induce a sense of calm. Even looking at images of trees can initiate a powerful response and significantly increase your sense of comfort.
An Improvement in Confidence and Self Esteem
Being in an area with a greater abundance of oxygen has a substantial increase on our overall positivity. Just being in a natural environment, breathing in clean air encourages the brain to release serotonin, that feel-good hormone.
Trees greatly improve the quality of our air in several ways. They absorb atmospheric pollutants such as ozone and sulphur dioxide. Trees also protect us from the hazardos remnants of pollen and smoke, whilst minimalising the spread of air born diseases.
Trees and Wellbeing: Our Physical Health
Encouraging an Active Lifestyle
The only way to fully experience all that trees have to offer is to go outside!
Going outside typically involves some physical activity, whether you are walking, out for a jog, or enjoy running. So theoretically, even at this very basic level, a link between nature and physical activity is clearly visible.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
So we already know a little about how our brain reacts to outdoor stimuli. What we have yet to explore is how these responses manifest physically.
After spending roughly 20 minutes in a natural environment our minds begin to unwind, our focus and positivity improve, and more importantly, our blood pressure begins to lower. Even a very slight decrease can feel significant to the body.
This change in our internal environment creates the perfect conditions for you to engage in exercise, particularly if you typically loathe it.
Studies strongly suggest that these subtle adjustments ease the physical strain of workouts; meaning you can train longer, harder, and more efficiently in woodland compared with the gym. And with a newfound positivity, you are more likely to start being active. The best part… it’s completely free!
So whether you are a dedicated athlete or an individual looking for a simple way to improve your health, head for the trees!
Trees and Wellbeing: Our Social Health
Increase your Support Network
Whether you consider yourself a social butterfly or an intuitive introvert, connecting with others is something we all, at some level, instinctively desire.
Just being out and about provides plenty of opportunities to initiate conversations, engage in your surroundings and immerse yourself in a new environment. It is also likely walking outdoors in an area you enjoy will bring you closer to like-minded people.
If this appeals to you, but you have no idea where to start (or the idea of walking outside and striking up conversations with strangers appears daunting) head online and check out local and community pages on Facebook or use a search engine. You will likely uncover a host of events, clubs, and charities open to all. And if, for some reason, there isn’t anything like this is available (or you are left searching for something that resonates with you) why not start something?
Of course, you don’t need to increase the number of people you know to have a strong support network. Why not invite friends or family to join you on a walk? Check-in with each other and share the benefits with those closest.
If you are passionate about all things green or want to know a little more about conservation efforts being made across the UK, Going Green: Your No Nonsense Update 2021 provides a revealing look at our current climate, whilst highlighting some amazing campaigns that you can be a part of!
Don’t Just Take Our Word for it!
We intentionally skipped as many stats, percentages, and figures as possible to make things easier to digest, and hopefully, we have left you feeling inspired.
If however, stats are your thing, or you want to have a look at these studies in a little more detail, here are a few links for you to explore.
And there you have it! Now what are you waiting for? Make that call to friend, have a look at what community support is available on your doorstep and get outside and enjoy!