Protecting Your Mental Health through Time in Nature
"Nature is all around us, but it is not a mechanical concept; in fact, it is fluid and timeless."
Lift your heads from those screens, detach from your work and escape from that traffic, if even just for a few moments. “And do what?” you may wonder aloud… Well, join me, let us explore!
Unplug from the hustle and bustle and delve into nature! Nature is all around us, but it is not a mechanical concept; in fact, it is fluid and timeless. Have you ever felt revitalized and mentally “light” after a trip to the countryside, the beach, a hike or even a relaxing walk in the park?
We will seek to unearth the reasons behind this and what practical steps you can adopt in allowing nature to boost your mental health.
An interesting piece of information to note is that in 2016 The World Bank made mental health a global development priority. Further, in a 2016 publication The World Bank explains that the economic impact is alarming as depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$1 trillion each year due to diminished productivity at work, welfare payments and other areas.
Spring boarding off “How Hospital Gardens Help Patients Heal,” an article by Deborah Franklin in 2012 highlights the benefits of patients’ visits to the hospital gardens. The article highlights the results of a study conducted by environmental psychologist Roger Ulrich, which showed that patients who had a bedside window view of leafy trees healed, on average, a day faster, needed significantly less pain medication and had fewer postsurgical complications than patients who saw a brick wall. The nature offered relaxation and restoration from mental and emotional fatigue.
I understand that not everyone may be “a nature person” because of the bugs, sun or even the mud.
Here are some practical tips to soothe and preserve your mental health, both for the nature lover and “nature-lover from afar”. For the purpose of this article, we will divide engagement of nature in two levels; visualizing/listening to natural scenes and being in natural environments.
Visualising/ Listening to Natural Scenes
1. Soothing sounds
This level is convenient to most people and can be accessed through a computer, television or smartphone/tablet. The internet, more specifically YouTube is quite vast and bursting with sounds and sights to stimulate and ease your mental tension. A favourite that I listen to through the day is “8 Hours Relaxing Nature Sounds”.
2. Eye behold
Open a Google search and look for “relaxing nature”. You can then select a picture that most appeals to you and set it as your desktop/phone background.
3. Experience the sunrise or the “golden hour”
Here is a challenge: dedicate a few minutes to view the sunrise before the start of your day or the “golden hour” as the sun sets. Those colours are so magnificent! As you stare at them for a few moments, take some deep breaths and focus on the colour changes.
Being in Natural Environments
1. Take a hike, literally!
Hiking is one of the best ways to engage with Trinidad and Tobago’s water treasures and scenic destinations. Many options are available such as Turure Water-steps, Avocat, Paria, Maracas Waterfalls and Argyle Waterfalls in Tobago. While you are there, remember, take only pictures and keep a clean scene.
2. Picnic Time!
Have a picnic with friends or family in the Botanic Gardens, San Fernando Hills, Palmiste Park or whichever green space you choose. The green space lightens your mind and spending time with friends or family is a great combination.
3. Take a trip on the wild side!
Nature also incorporates wildlife, and as such, T&T is overflowing with options from a trip to the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, the Point-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust and the ever-faithful Emperor Valley Zoo. If you are a bit more adventurous, you can try the coral reef dives in Tobago that will sure give you a thrill!
4. Get your hands dirty!
You can start your own kitchen garden or flower trough. Getting your hands in the soil is said to have calming and relaxing properties. By using this tip your mental health will take root in good soil.
Someone once said, when they enter into nature, they feel closer to God. With God’s help, His wonderfully designed natural world and these tips, you will be en route to your best mental health.
Nature is fluid and all embracing, would you accept its hug today?
About the Author
Kareina Mohammed, BSc., MSc. (cand.)
BSc. Psychology, MSc. Sociology (cand.)
Kareina Mohammed is passionate about God, life and human connections. She enjoys spending time with her loved ones, socializing, playing football and swimming. She believes that an individual should lead a balanced life and endeavors to do such.
She owns and operates Graphikos TT, a graphic design and print business which was officially opened in 2017. With regard to her academic qualifications, she studied Psychology at the Undergraduate level at The University of the Southern Caribbean and is currently pursuing a Post Graduate degree in Sociology at the University of the West Indies.
If you have any questions, contact Ms. Kareina Mohammed at firstname.lastname@example.org