The Power of Nature

The Power of Nature

Many people seek special supplements or alternative therapies as part of their self-care and improving their mental health. In actuality, there is a mental health booster that exists all around us: nature. Here in Colorado, we recognize the appeal of our natural landscape and the joy of being outside. Now, research has confirmed that spending time in nature is good for one’s mental health. Even living close to nature is enough to have an impact.

In a recent study by the University of Michigan, researchers found mental health benefits in people who spent at least 20 minutes a day in nature or places that made them feel connected with nature. In particular, those exposed to nature daily had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. To gain these benefits, it is best to avoid distraction during time in nature, such as using a cellphone or reading.

Other studies have found that spending time in nature on a regular basis can also improve depression, anxiety, memory, and brain activity. Specifically, spending long periods outdoors can lower activity in the part of the brain where rumination occurs. This means that the negative thoughts that can get stuck on repeat may quiet down during time outdoors. It is believed that having something positive to focus on (such as beautiful scenery) can help minimize negative thoughts and feelings. Additionally, the silence or calming nature sounds can also help reduce stress and heart rate compared to noisy or high-stimulus environments, like a city sidewalk.

In addition to mental health benefits, living near or spending time in nature has been associated with a reduced risk of major health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and high blood pressure. Having regular physical activity in these spaces could strengthen these effects.

By |2019-05-02T20:48:14+00:00May 2nd, 2019|

About the Author:

Dr. Stephanie M. Fox
Dr. Fox’s professional training took her throughout the Four Corners area, which inspired her practice name. In 2009, she earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of New Mexico, graduating summa cum laude. She earned her M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University, Denver in 2012, and her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Arizona School of Professional Psychology in 2016. Throughout her training, Dr. Fox has had an extensive assessment background, including conducting diagnostic, forensic, and educational/achievement evaluations with adolescents and adults. She completed a predoctoral internship at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan, and completed her postdoctoral work in private practice in personality and psychoeducational evaluations. Collectively, Dr. Fox has completed hundreds of evaluations covering a diverse range of issues. Dr. Fox is licensed as a Psychologist in the state of Colorado (#4709), and is also nationally certified as a Health Service Psychologist by the National Register (#55849). She is a member of the American Psychological Association, Colorado Psychological Association, and Colorado Assessment Society.