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How nature can help boost your mood during dark winter months

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Tuesday, January 18th 2022, 6:00 am - Study shows a strong connection between exposure to nature and positive mental health

Going for a walk, heading for a stroll, taking a hike — however you say it, we’ve been doing a lot of it during the pandemic.

A new study done by the Nature Conservancy of Canada has put some numbers behind all the walking we've been doing, and it’s shown a very positive correlation between our mental health and getting outside.

“Eighty-six per cent of the people that responded to this survey recognized that nature is really, really important for maintaining their mental health, especially in this current pandemic, “says Dan Kraus, Director of National Conservation for the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada. “Many Canadians – 94 per cent – are spending time in nature, and spending more time than ever in our outdoors.”

So, why does the forest, the ocean, or even the snowpacks stimulate our mood and bring us into a happier state of mind?

“I want you to just think about the difference between taking a mechanistic walk on a treadmill…it’s linear, it’s predictable…you can’t really leave a footprint,” explains Rebecca Lloyd, a professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in physical and health education. “But when you make that tread in the soft Earth…just think of a muddy path…there’s a relationship there. There’s an animate intertwining. The more we experience the relationship to this animate Earth, the more we’re going to have that experience of possibility…of what it’s like to be awoken, of what it’s like to connect to something beyond ourselves.”

The Nature Conservancy of Canada was overall pleased with the findings of their study. To learn more about the importance of getting out into nature and how it can help improve your mental health, please watch the Health and Weather report that leads this article.

Thumbnail credit: (Kohei Hara. DigitalVision. Getty Images)

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