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A Dose of Nature
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A Dose of Nature

Spending time in nature can lift your mood, bring calmness, and clear brain fog. Research shows nature can heal and restore mental wellbeing.

Even though it’s something we’ve all heard about, and something we’ve certainly all instinctively felt, the idea that getting outside can combat feelings of depression and anxiety is something we may not pay enough attention to in our rapidly urbanising and fast-paced society. So, for everyone who feels like they need a breather, here is a reminder on how simply stepping into nature can help.

Prescribing Nature 

Humans thrive in the outdoors. It’s been found that just a few minutes a day outside can lower blood pressure, improve mood, contribute to better sleep, improve mental focus, and more. But taking it even further, there’s been research that tells us it can also relieve stress and combat depression – both major issues in today’s society.


Research from the University of East Anglia revealed that people who spend time in or live in greenspaces benefit from significant mental and physical health boosts (2018). After compiling hundreds of studies that involved over 200 million people, the researchers found that people living closer to nature had reduced diastolic blood pressure and heart rate. But most interestingly, they found that, exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol – a physiological marker of stress.


A previous study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that walking in nature yields may reduce risk of depression (2015). This study compared brain activity in people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area vs. people who walked for 90 minutes in a high-traffic urban setting. Researchers found that those in the natural setting had decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.

These studies, along with countless others, support what most of us may already assume – that spending time in nature really does have the power to boost mood. Because of this, instead of thinking of outdoor activities as just hobbies, we should be shifting our mindset to thinking of them as essential self-care practices.

Across the World

Many cultures are already steps ahead in embracing nature as a natural remedy that can help boost and maintain mental health. These are some of our favourite lifestyles or practices from across the world that we can learn a thing or two from:

Japan: shinrin-yoku

Japan is one country that already embraces their own form of ecotherapy, aimed at reducing stress and improving well: shinrin-yoku, which translates to forest bathing. Despite its name, no bathing is required, rather it simply means immersing yourself in nature. It is meant to be a peaceful wander through nature, where you use all five senses to reconnect with nature. Many Japanese researchers believe shinrin-yoku can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and release healing properties.

Norway, Denmark, & Sweden: friluftsliv

In Scandinavia, the people live by the concept of friluftsliv, which translates to’ open-air living.’ Whether it means walking to work, taking lunch breaks in the park, or meeting friends at a countryside cabin, they place a high value on getting outdoors in order to boost mental and physical health. Many workplaces even ingrain this lifestyle into the workweek by incentivising their employees to take breaks outside during work hours, or by offering flexible work hours so they can friluftsliv while the sun is up and work during the evening.

Finding Your Own Calm in Nature

You don’t have to go on a multi-day camping trip or hours-long bushwalk for nature to take its effect on your psyche. Luckily, just two hours spread out however you prefer over the week is all you need. Here are our top tips to finding your calm in nature:

Find your space

If you’re an avid bushwalker, fisher, surfer, or any other outdoor enthusiast, finding where you want to spend your time in nature could be a no brainer. For those who don’t regularly get outside already, you may need to work it into your schedule. Find a spot in the park to eat lunch, fancy up your neglected patio, or pick up a new outdoor hobby like gardening or meditating.

Be Present

When it comes to being present in nature, do as the Japanese do while forest bathing: slow down and reflect while engaging your senses. If you decide to go for a bushwalk, look for wildlife, touch the trees or flowers, and smell the fresh air. If you’re on your porch, look for movement in the clouds, listen to the birds, and feel the breeze on your skin.

Bring It Home

Creating greenspaces at your home or in your office can extend the benefits you receive from actually going outdoors. Many people do so by picking up shells on the beach and bringing them inside as décor, buying plants to sit on your desk, or even just opening the curtains each day to allow natural light to come in.

Don't delay for ideal conditions, simply go out there and ... enjoy the moment. 



Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., Hahn, K. S., Daily, G. C., & Gross, J. J. (2015). Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(28), 8567– 8572. 

University of East Anglia. (2018, July 6). It’s official — spending time outside is good for you. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 27, 2022 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180706102842.htm

Photography by Melanie Kate Creative - Tasmania



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