Reduce Anxiety and Stress With Nature During The Pandemic:

Winter is coming! Or so they keep saying in Game of Thrones which I've finally given in to and started watching (so many hours of my life are passing me by as I work my way through series after series!).

It's starting to feel like winter is now well and truly here. As I headed out for my run this morning it was still dark, there was frost over the cars and the thermometer was reading one degree.  It took all my will power to persuade me to get up and out of bed and to go and run five miles around the streets of Ely in the flipping cold! And as always, I felt loads better mentally and physically afterwards from moving, exercising and getting out. 

And to be fair, it wasn't as cold as the time I sat in a dark, cold student flat in Leeds all weekend one winter waiting for the shop to open on Monday morning so I could buy an electric meter token, only to discover that there had been a reserve amount in the meter that just needed a button to be pushed!  

When I head out for a run or a walk, I love to take in as much time around nature as I can. This morning I ran over the fields, along the river and through Ely nature reserve. And then afterwards I walked to the office through the same fields, only at a more leisurely pace where I could see the birds and squirrels and take in the trees and greenery.

Spending time in nature is good for your mental health. It helps you to reduce stress and anxiety and boosts your mental health and sense of well-being. I've written about this and suggested it a number of times before, but now a new research study has added even more weight to it by specifically looking at the importance of nearby nature for mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Do I look cold after my run this morning? My body had warmed up under half a dozen layers but I'm pretty certain I couldn't feel my frozen face as I tried hard to smile:

 

stress hypnotherapy in ely

 

Reducing Stress and Anxiety During Covid-19

I've written before about research that demonstrates the benefits of time in nature for reducing stress and supporting your mental health. You can read more about it in these articles elsewhere on my website: 

Using Nature To Reduce Stress and Boost Mental Health

Using Nature To Positively Impact Your Mental Health

In essence, the research shows that spending time in nature produces significant benefits in reducing your stress and anxiety levels and in boosting your sense of mental health and well-being (Hunter, Gillespie and Chen, 2019). And just ten or twenty minutes sitting or walking in nature can have a meaningful impact in reducing stress, anger and anxiety (Meredith et al, 2020).

And you may also want to take a quick look at this article and video that I recorded on location in the New Forest (when it was a lot warmer) about time in nature for anxiety and stress reduction: Time In Nature For Mental Health - Hypnotherapy in Ely Vlog

 

Nature and Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic 

It seems pretty clear that time in nature is good for your mental health and can help you to reduce your stress and anxiety. It's certainly something I've been recommending doing as part of looking after your mental health during lockdowns and the Covid-19 pandemic (for example, as one of the suggested actions in this article:  Coronavirus And Your Mental Health).

And whilst the research I've mentioned above was from before the pandemic (if any of us can remember what life was like then!), Soga et al (2020) have investigated the role of nature around the home on mitigating adverse mental health consequences from the pandemic and measures taken to deal with it (such as social distancing).  

Based upon a sample of three thousand people, they found that the frequency of green space use and the existence of green window views from within the home was associated with increased levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction, and subjective happiness and decreased levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

"We found that the degree of self-esteem, life satisfaction, and subjective happiness were all positively related to the frequency of green space use around the home and green views through windows at home. We also showed reduced levels of loneliness and depression and anxiety in people who use green space frequently and live at the home with a green view."

Thus these findings suggest that a regular dose of nature can contribute to the improvement of a wide range of mental health outcomes. And those benefits, such as reduced anxiety and stress, can come from spending time physically in nature, or even from having views of nature through your windows. Of course, actually getting out in nature can provide an opportunity to move and exercise, as well as some social interaction with other people.

In these days of the pandemic, I think we all need to do all we can to support good mental health and well-being.  All of this research suggests that in order to do this, nature should form part of the actions you take to look after yourself, support your mental health and reduce any anxiety and stress.

To your good mental health,

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

 

Need some help to deal with anxiety and stress and improve your mental health? Book your Complimentary Hypnotherapy Strategy Session with Dan now: Appointments

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References:

Hunter MR, Gillespie BW and Chen SY-P (2019). Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers. Front. Psychol. 10:722. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00722

Meredith, G.R., Rakow, D.A., Eldermire, E.R., Madsen, C.G., Shelley, S.P. and Sachs, N.A., 2020. Minimum Time Dose in Nature to Positively Impact the Mental Health of College-Aged Students, and How to Measure It: A Scoping Review. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, p.2942.

Soga, M., M. J. Evans, K. Tsuchiya, and Y. Fukano. 2020. A room with a green view: the importance of nearby nature for mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ecological Applications 00(00): e02248. 10.1002/eap.2248.