The mental health benefits of living near nature

When looking for a new home, having a park or green space nearby is on the top of search criteria for many home seekers. There’s a reason why properties that boast river valley views are more expensive or why homes that back onto green space or parkland are always the first to go. It is because human beings are drawn to nature – naturally. There are also many mental health benefits of living near nature.

“Biologically we are connected to nature and there is something in us that knows that. There is a lot of scientific evidence showing that being in nature helps our reptilian brain, or survival brain, to sooth and calm when it sees beauty and our brains process nature as beautiful,” said Doris Ryan, registered psychologist.

The reptilian brain includes the same three main structures found in a reptile’s brain including the brain stem and the cerebellum. These control the body’s main functions vital for survival including heart rate, breathing and body temperature.

“If you’re deliberately attending to nature you will see a lowering of blood pressure, reduced stress and anxiety. So if you’re able to walk to the park every day, and take time to notice the trees, birds and sunshine, your mind and body will naturally settle,” said Ryan.

In addition to mental health, living near greenery encourages children and adults to get outside, walk, run and recreate, contributing to a healthier and more active lifestyle. A greener environment is also less polluted, cooler in the summer and makes for a more attractive neighbourhood.

“We spend so much time in our mind, in the rush and busyness of our urban world that we don’t give ourselves that time to be connected with what we are biologically which is nature. If we can easily access that, it can improve our well-being.”

 

Top Image: “Droplets on Moss” by Nart Barileva

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