Nature and Mental Health

Patrice Flanagan-Morris, LCSW Director of Education, Outpatient Therapist

Recently I went to Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio for a camping get away. One thing that I have learned in life is that self-care is an essential way in which I provide my best to my clients. There are many forms of self-care and everyone will have different activities that help them re-set.

I generally suggest for people that they find activities that involve them being actively engaged in. Not only does it help you stay present in your activity but you are also able to fully enjoy it!

Old Man Cave, Hocking Hills State Park

For me, and many others, getting out in nature provides a release and improves mental health. We are seeing a growing amount of research that supports people getting out into nature to support their overall well being. In fact, green exercise has shown to improve self-esteem, mood and decrease in symptoms like anxiety and depression (Barton and Pretty, 2010).

Ash Cave, Hocking Hills State Park

I make an effort weekly to get out into nature, even in the harsh Wisconsin winters! Camping is a cheaper alternative to taking vacations and for many people, it can make travel cheaper. With this 4 day get away I was able to put my phone down and allow myself to enjoy what nature has provided for all of us! In doing so I am more available for my clients afterwards so I am able to provide them the best version of myself possible. Self-care is important in any career!

Rock House, Hocking Hills State Park

Reach out if you need additional support with self-care or learning different mindfulness techniques to increase your ability to stay present in nature.

Reference:

Barton, J., & Pretty, J. (2010). What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise

for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis. Environmental Science

& Technology44(10), 3947–3955. doi: 10.1021/es903183r

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