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The Restorative Power of Nature

Date:19 June 2023
Author:Green Office
Author - Katrine Stokke
Author - Katrine Stokke

Have you ever heard of 'mental health walks'? Increasingly more people seem to realize that going out for walks in nature can help relieve stress and replenish your energy. In this blog, Rina explains why nature has such restorative powers, and how you can make the most of this. Through her six tips, she will encourage you to start walking and help you reap the benefits of walking through nature!

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A new trend among young people is to go on so-called “mental health walks”,  where they seem to improve their mental health simply by going out for a walk. Throughout my own life, I’ve always sought out nature as a way to deal with stress but I’ve never really questioned ‘why?’. Can a walk through nature really be as "healing" as they say? And if so, what exactly are the benefits?

The Restorative Properties of Nature

Most people already know that going outside into nature can improve their mood. But why is that? One theory in evolutionary psychology reasons that natural sounds & smells are easier to process for us humans, than the stimuli in man-made environments to which we are overexposed.

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Being able to process natural stimuli more easily can lead to a number of advantages, especially for usually sedentary students & staff-members. 

These include improved attention, reduced stress levels, increased self-discipline, and even greater enjoyment in studying! All of these factors accumulate into improved learning, which is why being connected to nature can be so helpful for both students and teachers. In a study on children, this has been shown to improve self-discipline not only in those who are neurotypical but also in kids with ADHD and learning disabilities.

Mental Health Walks

When the weather is nice, being in nature can provide a calmer, quieter, and safer environment than the inside. Therefore, working in the park during a nice summer day can boost your productivity!

Another way to immerse yourself more in nature is by taking a walk. Not only does it contribute to a great workout, but it also lifts your energy levels, sharpens your focus, and builds your self-esteem. People are shown to cope with their workload better after taking a walk and some feel less tired and stressed after a stroll through the park. Moreover, it can also help with coming up with innovative ideas and out-of-the-box thinking. So, next time you have a creative block, consider going on a walk during your lunch break!

How to Start Walking

  1. Create a walking routine - start small and gradually build up your endurance

  2. Try to stretch to your feet - this is a good way to incorporate more movement into your routine and while it is not necessary, who knows, it might even leave your friends impressed!

  3. Remember, it’s not about the length of the route, but rather the quality and consistency of your routine

  4. Do it safely - when walking at night consider wearing easy-to-see clothing or reflectors

  5. Keep it fun! - maybe ask a friend to join your walks or listen to some music. Switching up the route from time to time could also increase motivation!

  6. Don’t worry about being inconsistent - while consistency matters, the benefits of nature stay even if you miss a few days!

However, keep in mind that walking in nature should be seen as just a tool to maintain or boost your mental health, and not as a substitute for professional mental health treatment. So don’t walk away from your therapist just yet, but perhaps take a stroll through nature on your way there!

Are you ready to go for a walk and benefit from nature’s healing effects? I sure am!

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Hey there! I'm Rina (Katrine), I'm 21 years old and I've been studying psychology for about 1.5 years. I’ve been passionate about sustainability for as long as I can remember and combining this with my interest in psychology feels like a natural fit for me. After moving out of my childhood home, I quickly realized how tricky it can be to act environmentally friendly as a student. So, I am excited to share my perspectives and experiences on navigating this journey in a more mindful way.