The science behind how nature makes us feel better

Ben Hall 2020/VISION

Did you know, contact with nature has been scientifically proven to make us feel healthier and happier? Communications Officer, Ellie, finds out how.

Many scientist now believe that we have actually evolved to feel more relaxed in natural spaces and certainly here at The Wildlife Trust we know this to be true, but what is it about being outside that has such a positive effect on how we feel?

A couple walking through autumn leaves in a woodland

Decreased stress levels

One study found participants who walked in forests exhibited significantly lower heart rates, better moods and less anxiety than individuals who took the same walk in an urban setting. Another piece of research determined that sounds of nature help us to relax and feel calmer.

A grey seal resting on rocks underwater

Alexander Mustard/2020VISION

Improved sleep

Exposure to natural light boosts our mood and keeps our circadian rhythm, or body clock, in balance. Research shows that the amount of sunlight you get during the day has a big influence on how much sleep we get at night. A lack of sunlight has also been shown to affect the production of hormones melatonin and serotonin.

At the beach

Increased endorphins

Physical activity - even something very gentle like a light walk - pumps up your endorphins (your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters), giving your wellbeing an instant boost, and what better place to get your heart-rate up than in the great outdoors? Taking a stroll or, better yet, volunteering at a local nature reserve will not only boost your own mood, but will also contribute to nature’s recovery.

Working in close collaboration with the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, The Wildlife Trust’s Myplace programme uses nature to improve people's health and wellbeing. Could our project benefit you or someone you know? Click the button below for more information.

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