Last weekend I went camping with a couple of friends on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and I was reminded of how wonderful it can feel to immerse oneself in the beauty of nature, even if only for a few days.
Perhaps the relief, relaxation and overall good vibes I felt during camping in the “wilderness” are not an isolated incident. Many experts suggest that being more in touch with nature can actually noticeably improve your mental health.
Trudy Scott, a certified nutritionist and author of “The Antianxiety Food Solution: How the Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood and End Cravings,” said in an email that multiple studies suggest being in nature can boost mood.
“An interesting 2009 study from the Netherlands found a strong relationship between being outdoors in nature and lower rates of anxiety and depression,” Scott said.
“And a paper just published in the Journal of Affective Disorders looked at the effect of nature in depressed individuals, and found that something as simple as a walk in the park improved cognition and mood. A 2004 paper in the America Journal of Public Health found that children with ADHD benefitted from being outdoors in greenery.”
She has suggestions for women with children who want to get in touch with nature.
“Moms with younger children can get a rugged baby cart and go for a jog along trails,” Scott said.
“If there is a lake nearby, kayaking is an option, or going for a bike ride and putting the child in a bike seat or bike trailer. Even hiking with a backpack baby carrier is fun and kids love it too. As the children grow up, they can get their own bikes or kayaks and be encouraged to hike – make it a whole family affair. Going on a camping trip is fun for all, and the outdoors can be enjoyed – hiking, biking, water fun like kayaking, surfing or even windsurfing.”
Scott personally loves nature and the outdoors, and has felt a change in her life from embracing the wilderness.
“I have always had a love of the outdoors, and one of my favorite trips was hiking to the top of the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro,” Scott said.