Earth Day: Nature and Mental Health
Ever noticed how many of us feel differently when outside than inside? How we feel differently as the seasons change? Our environment plays an important role in what we feel and how we feel. Unfortunately, access and time are not always on our side when engaging in nature. But I wonder what impact that is having on our mental health. The linked study from healio.com shows the significant positive benefits of spending 2 hours in nature each week.
With the pandemic, our engagement of leaving the house and being outside may have been limited. On the other hand, the pandemic has also provided new found connections in nature for some. It has become one of the more common “pandemic friendly” activities - taking a walk, meeting outside, etc. Research is avidly speculating ways in which we are managing the stress of the pandemic. This one-time special report shows that the pandemic brought new participants to get outside as well as some new behaviors. “Time outside is an antidote to the stress of the pandemic and can be a continued source of fun, joy, wonder, and a boost to our mental and physical health.”
Keeping in mind this Earth day that has come and gone, I encourage you to consider (access and time permitting) how you can bring a connection to nature in your life? Is it by taking a walk? Bringing a plant into your home? Carving out time to go to the nearby park or saving up for a trip? Local libraries and community centers often have community passes for things like the Harbor iIslands, or T passes for the beach. Maybe it is a google search of nearby national parks that are added to your to-visit list. It may be admiring the garden of your neighbor or working on a garden of your own. However you choose to consider honoring the Earth and your mental health, I hope you treat both with kindness and care. Because like your mind and your health, the Earth needs to be treated with kindness and care.
Vera Bednar, LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC), a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) and certified in dialectical behavioral therapy (C-DBT). A Lesley University graduate, Vera earned a bachelor's in counseling and art therapy and a master's in clinical mental health counseling with a specialization in trauma.
Prior to joining Looking Glass Counseling, Vera worked in a wide variety of clinical settings including inpatient, residential, intensive outpatient and an assisted living center with an art therapy focus. She also worked in partial hospitalization programs specializing in trauma, LGBTQIA+ individuals and young adult transitions as well as substance use.
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