top of page
  • Writer's pictureDr. Elena Duong

Mental Health & Nature

Updated: 18 hours ago

Are you living to work or working to live? It is difficult to sustain a balance between work and life. The balance is a bit of a myth itself since what we need/want changes over time, so the balance shifts to align with our current selves. Oftentimes, people give up on the balance and focus on work, which usually does not turn out well, resulting in work-related burnout.



All in all, there are different ways to live a more sustainable life. People can start by changing something that seems small (e.g., incorporating a no-work email boundary after a specific time). Another way can be engaging in hobbies (Pressman et al., 2009), allowing you to focus on something outside of work as a way to combat stress. But, it can get tricky when hobbies overlap with our jobs, so it is beneficial to explore other hobbies in this case. Hobbies can include anything you find enjoyable from going on walks, being a plant or pet parent, to rediscovering the much neglected creative side of yours (e.g., crafting, beading, or crocheting). This helps to remind us there is more to life than work, and work does not need to define our lives.

 

A potential hobby that can be beneficial in itself is engaging with nature and/or plants. Nature has been repeatedly shown to have beneficial effects on mental health, including stress reduction, improved attention, and better mood (Weir, 2020). This can be through engaging in physical activity in nature, taking mindful walks, observing and/or naming the various plants/creatures around you, and more. In addition, researchers discovered those who relocated to a greener living area displayed improved mental health for at least 3 years afterwards (University of Exeter, 2014).


If you want to start engaging in nature and don’t have it nearby, going to a local park for a walk can be a good start. On the other hand, if you want to start gardening and feel overwhelmed, you can always start small with one plant and learn all about it before moving forward on your gardening journey.

 

Gardening or taking care of plants can be one way to better our mental health. Gardening has been shown to be beneficial for physical and mental health (Thompson, 2018; Wimmer, 2022). Often, gardening includes a routine/structure, physical activity, and spending time outdoors, which can help with blood pressure and vitamin D levels (Thompson, 2018). If you garden edible plants like vegetables and fruits, you also may become more conscientious about what you eat (Wimmer, 2022). Further, there can be community in gardening, such as sharing seeds, propagations, gardening tips, in turn increasing social connection and lowering levels of loneliness to help overall mental health.

 

At the end of the day, the goal is to take care of your body, including mental and physical health, to live a more sustainable life. Part of it is learning to move at your own pace. What works for you may not work for someone else. Keep in mind that you do not need to strive towards perfection when trying something new.


If you are interested in seeking mental health services with us to help with work-life balance, feel free to contact us.

 

"In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful." – Alice Walker


 

Written by Elena Duong, Psy.D.

Edited by Susanna La, Ph.D.

 

References:

Pressman, S. D., Matthews, K. A., Cohen, S., Martire, L. M., Scheier, M., Baum, A., & Schulz, R. (2009). Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being. Psychosomatic medicine, 71(7), 725–732. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978

 

Thompson R. (2018). Gardening for health: a regular dose of gardening. Clinical medicine (London, England), 18(3), 201–205. https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmedicine.18-3-201

 

University of Exeter. (2014, January 7). Green spaces deliver lasting mental health benefits. Environmental Science & Technology. https://news-archive.exeter.ac.uk/featurednews/title_349054_en.html

 

Weir, K. (2020, April 1). Nurtured by nature: Psychological research is advancing our understanding of how time in nature can improve our mental health and sharpen our cognition. Monitor on Psychology, 51(3), 50. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature

 

Wimmer, L. (2022, July 12). Dig into the benefits of gardening. Speaking of Health. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/dig-into-the-benefits-of-gardening

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


Commenting has been turned off.
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page