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The Power of Nature in Improving your Physical and Mental Health

Turns out, plants also improve your mental health

It’s pretty well understood that the natural world is important to our immediate physical well being. Nature provides us with food, fresh air, and water. More than that, scientific evidence shows that the natural world plays an even deeper role in our mental and psychological well being. For example, when people feel stressed they might visit nature to calm themselves down. Why is that?

Biologist Edward Wilson believes that humans are programmed to love living things. He calls this idea Biophilia, which generally relates to the fact that we humans, being dependent on nature, are evolutionarily “programmed” to care for it. Whether you agree with him or not, this idea intuitively makes sense.

As mentioned before, nature plays a central role in a person’s mental state. A compilation of research highlighted in a New York Times Article found that even looking at green areas reduced stress and brain fatigue. For example, one study found that walking in nature dramatically increased concentration levels. So it makes sense why people put plants on their desks, sit next to windows, decorate their homes with potted plants or even put trees indoors! All of these different connections with nature reduce anxiety and bring us to a calmed mental state.

Another study found that nature also plays a role in crime levels. In cities with less natural areas, such as parks, instances of crime were significantly higher than cities with more trees. On the other hand, cities with more parks and natural spaces had a 7% lower crime rate. The same researcher, Dr. Kuo, did another study on children with ADHD. She found that, when it came to concentrating, taking children with ADHD for a walk in a green area caused the “same or a similar effect as ADHD medication.”

With all of the research pointing to our need for connections with nature, our involvement with plants and “natural area planning” makes sense. The next question remains: what happens without interaction with the natural world?

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