Date of the last update: 11.04.2022
Everyday contact with nature, breathing fresh air, the smell of flowers, birdsong, the touch of leaves or a nap on the grass are the key to mental health. Everyone dreams about a place where they could hide from the hardships of everyday life and simply relax.
Mother Nature offers a multitude of gifts that boost our energy and strengthen both mental and physical resilience. Taking advantage of them is the best way to feel good and healthy.
Table of Contents:
- What is mental health?
- There are three components of mental health
- Nature and mental health
- Gifts of nature to support mental health
You can read this article in 3 minutes.
What is mental health?
World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. It also states that “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
There are three components of mental health:
- Biological – diet, physical activity, genes, diseases, levels of dopamine etc.
- Psychological – personality, beliefs, childhood patterns, stress level and the ability to cope with it, as well as attitude to life and assertiveness.
- Social – contact with people around us.
More and more people suffer from mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug addiction, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Thus, it is imperative to take care of your mental health, and nature comes to the rescue here.
Nature and mental health
It’s a well-known fact that spending time in nature is the best way to relax. A University of Exeter study published in “Scientific Reports” found that people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature enjoy good health and well-being.
A trip to the countryside, to the lake, river, mountains or out to the park or forest is an excellent way for spending time surrounded by nature. It’s great to have your own garden, away from the hustle and bustle, and grow vegetables, fruit and flowers there. Singing birds and other sounds of nature improve your mood and help you unwind. Staying outdoors will help you forget about the problems of everyday life and reduce stress levels. Communing with nature is very beneficial to the mind: it increases self-esteem, life satisfaction and happiness, while simultaneously it is associated with lower levels of depression and loneliness, as researchers from The University of Tokyo reveal in their findings published in “Ecological Applications” journal. As you can see, in times of isolation and stressful situations, it is worth taking advantage of the benefits brought by Mother Nature. Being in nature contributes to achieving inner harmony; it helps to unwind and contemplate. What is more, all this happens naturally thanks to our senses.
Gifts of nature to support mental health
A properly selected diet, rich in natural products, improves psychophysical condition and may also prevent the development of anxiety disorders and depression. Our daily menu should consist of 5 regularly eaten meals, providing the body with energy and nurturing our good mood. The diet should help maintain adequate levels of serotonin, the so-called “happiness hormone”. You should eat foods rich in complete proteins and complex carbohydrates, i.e. wholemeal bread, groats, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, pulses, nuts, seeds and grains, as well as eggs and fish. Serotonin levels are also crucial. To keep it at the right level, reach for foods rich in magnesium, iron, vitamins C, D and folic acid. Tryptophan is present in bananas, seafood, eggs, cottage cheese and avocado. The daily menu should also provide B vitamins and prebiotics. So remember to include vegetables, fruit and other products from Mother Nature in your diet. After all, everyone knows that food improves our mood.
Connecting with nature has a beneficial effect on humans. So spend as much time outdoors and savour nature’s gifts.
Wilczyńska A., Kwasy tłuszczowe w leczeniu i zapobieganiu depresji, Psychiatria Polska, 2013,
Ciborowska H., Rudnicka A., Dietetyka. Żywienie zdrowego i chorego człowieka, PZWL, Warszawa 2014.