Nature and mental health

Explains the mental health benefits of nature and gives tips and ideas to try. Also provides information on formal ecotherapy programmes, and where to find out more.

Your stories

Gardening, mental health and my positive workplace experience

Gardening and the support of her workplace have helped Mary to manage her bipolar

Posted on 01/04/2016

How getting a dog saved my life.

After his mental health took a dive, Paul began researching whether a furry friend might help him get back on track.

Posted on 08/01/2018

How can nature benefit my mental health?

Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. For example, doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals can have lots of positive effects. It can:

Nurturing something else into life has really helped my wellbeing – gently caring for something helped me learn to care for myself.

We all have different experiences of nature, and different reasons for wanting to connect with it more – or feeling unsure about whether to try. You might find you get something completely different from one activity compared to someone else.

Our pages on ideas to try in nature and overcoming barriers give lots of tips on how to bring some benefits from nature into your life, whatever your personal situation.

I’ve been getting out into nature and walking, either on my own or with dogs, to manage my bipolar disorder for years. It helps to keep me calm and physically healthy, and I love taking the time to be mindful of all the beautiful green spaces around me, even when living in a city. Watching the birds and squirrels always has a calming effect and takes me out of my own head.

Nature and mental health problems
Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. For example, research into ecotherapy (a type of formal treatment which involves doing activities outside in nature) has shown it can help with mild to moderate depression. This might be due to combining regular physical activity and social contact with being outside in nature.

Being outside in natural light can also be helpful if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects people during particular seasons or times of year. And people tell us that getting into nature has helped them with many other types of mental health problems.

I’ve had mild to moderate problems with anxiety, depression and OCD all my life, and in recent years volunteering on my local city farm has been the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done, besides good talking therapy.

Watch Jill talk about how she has boosted her physical wellbeing and learnt new skills by volunteering at a TCV Green Gym in Regent's Park:

It is hard to explain the power of nature in relieving both my physical and mental stress ... There is little more relaxing then sitting with a cup of tea looking at a hill through a window and hearing the nearby stream trickle away. There is something about the quiet calm of nature that is contagious, leaving a quiet calm in my mind.

 


This information was published in May 2018 – to be revised in 2021. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.


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