The traditional role of psychological science was to cure mental illness. Where there was dysfunction, psychology sought to remedy it. Nowadays, we’re experiencing a flourishing of the discipline known as “positive psychology.” Put simply, the aim isn’t only to cure mental health problems, but also to ask, “How can exceptional mental health be achieved?”
One of the major areas of study over recent years has been how nature affects us mentally. And there have been some pretty surprising insights!
In her excellent article on TreeHugger, Melissa Breyer outlines five simple ways that reconnecting with nature can make us happier. What’s more, all of her tips are backed by science. Here’s a summary:
Take a “forest bath”: A “forest bath” is a short walk in a forest. There are various benefits that this simple activity can have on our health, including a lowering of blood pressure. We also breath “wood essential oils” which have antimicrobial properties.
If you live in the city, pick somewhere with trees: A simple tactic that, again, has been backed by science. Studies have shown that people who live in neighbourhoods with lots of greenery are happier than those who don’t.
Take a walk in the park: A study was conducted in which two groups of people were monitored as they took a walk – one group in an industrial setting and the other in a natural area. The brain activity of those participants in the natural are was significantly more relaxed.
Take a “nature break”: Studies have shown that a five-minute break in any kind of natural environment can have a positive effect on self-esteem.
Smell some flowers: Participants placed in a floral-scented room reported a significant boost in happiness and friendliness.