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Skincare for self-care

MANDI MAKES

Natural Living Made Simple

MANDI MAKES

Walking in Nature: A Path to Better Mental Health

self-care challenge

Welcome back to our year-long self-care challenge series! Each week, we explore new ways to enhance our mental well-being, and this week, we're focusing on the profound benefits of taking a walk in nature. This simple yet powerful activity can significantly boost your mental health. Let's delve into the research-based evidence supporting this and learn how to make the most of your nature walks.

 

What’s in the blog:

 

 

THE MENTAL BENEFITS OF WALKING IN NATURE

nature for wellbeing

  1. Natural Light Exposure: Even on cloudy days, natural light is more beneficial than indoor lighting. Exposure to natural light helps regulate our circadian rhythms, which govern our sleep-wake cycles, leading to better sleep quality. Improved sleep can directly enhance mood and cognitive function. Research also shows that natural light exposure can boost serotonin levels, which are crucial for mood stabilisation and feelings of well-being.

  2. Fresh Air: Fresh air is invigorating and can help clear your mind. When we breathe in fresh air, we increase oxygen levels in our body, which in turn boosts the production of serotonin. This neurotransmitter is essential for mood regulation, reducing feelings of anxiety, and promoting overall mental clarity.

  3. Seeing Nature: The visual appeal of natural environments has a calming effect on the mind. Studies indicate that viewing natural scenes can reduce stress and improve mood. The presence of trees, plants, water bodies, and wildlife can help divert your mind from daily stressors, providing a mental break and fostering a sense of peace and tranquillity.

  4. Physical Movement: Physical activity, such as walking, is well-known for its mental health benefits. Walking stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Moreover, engaging in regular physical activity can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve self-esteem, and enhance overall cognitive function.

 


 

HOW OFTEN AND HOW LONG SHOULD YOU WALK?

nature for wellbeing

To reap the ultimate benefits of walking in nature, consider the following guidelines:


  • Frequency: Aim to walk in nature at least three to five times a week. Regular exposure is key to maintaining and enhancing mental well-being.


  • Duration: Studies suggest that even a 20-30-minute walk can significantly reduce stress and improve mood. For optimal benefits, try to engage in 60 minutes of walking a few times a week. The more consistently you integrate these walks into your routine, the greater the mental health benefits.

 


 

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR INCORPORATING NATURE WALKS

walking for wellbeing

  1. Start with Short Walks: Begin with short, manageable walks. If you decide on a 10km hike when you're not used to it, you will immediately rule out any more walks! Gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable.

  2. Make It a Routine: Schedule your walks at a specific time each day. Whether it's morning, afternoon, or evening, consistency is crucial. I walk my dogs every morning as the first thing I do when I get up to make sure nothing gets in the way later in the day.

  3. Explore Different Routes: Discover local parks, nature trails, or even tree-lined streets. Simply changing the streets you walk down or the direction you first go when you leave your front door can Variety can keep your walks interesting and engaging.

  4. Mindfulness Practice: Use your walks as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Focus on your surroundings, the sounds of nature, the feel of the ground beneath your feet, and the rhythm of your breath. I do this every time I walk through a particular path in my neighbourhood that is surrounded by the bush, it's amazing what this simple act can do!

  5. Disconnect to Reconnect: Leave your devices behind or set them to do-not-disturb mode. Use this time to disconnect from digital distractions and reconnect with yourself and nature.

  6. Invite Others: Walking with a friend or family member can enhance the experience, making it a social activity that also strengthens your relationships. Or, like me, walk with a dog/s!

  7. Prepare Accordingly: It goes without saying but, ensure you wear comfortable walking shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. Being prepared ensures that your walk is enjoyable and you're not uncomfortably hot or cold, because that will put you off going again.

 


 

THE CHALLENGE


By making nature walks a regular part of your routine, you’re investing in your mental well-being. Join us in this week’s self-care challenge and experience the calming, rejuvenating effects of nature. Share your experiences and tips in the comments below – we’d love to hear how nature walks are enhancing your mental health!

 

Stay tuned for next week's self-care challenge, and happy walking!

wellbeing walk

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Hi, I'm Mandi. A former primary teacher, Lifestyle Medicine graduate and current Diploma in Natural Skincare student with a passion for natural living.

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