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The stress relieving and mind boosting benefits of nature

One of the best ways to reduce your stress levels, apart from removing the stressor itself, is to go outdoors and surround yourself with nature.

You don’t have to venture far. You could visit your local park, your garden or balcony. Just get out into the fresh air and tune into what is happening around you, even a relatively short time outside can be beneficial.

A 2019 study by the University of Michigan found that spending just 20 minutes outside during daylight significantly reduces your stress hormone levels and improves your mood.

Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study said: “For the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature."

To gain the greatest stress reducing benefits, whilst outside you should avoid social media, the internet, phone calls, conversations, reading and aerobic exercise. Use the time to slow down and connect with your surroundings. Be present in your surroundings see what you notice. Be curious, walk slowly and you will notice treasures that would have been hidden to you if hadn’t slowed down.

Getting outdoors has always been my favourite and most effective way to relax. Gardening has quietened my mind for decades. Being outdoors with my hands caked in soil is one of the best tonics for my soul along with walking for miles with my dog through our local woodlands.

This is why, when I work with my coaching clients face to face or remotely, I actively encourage them to get out into nature. Where possible I hold my coaching sessions outside, walking and talking.

Being away from the workplace and outside in nature relaxes people, clears their head, gives them some distance and allows them to see situations with more clarity and different perspectives. The fresh air refreshes, invigorates and stimulates the mind. Nature can offer a sense of awe as well as freeing the mind, helping ideas to flow and fostering creativity.

Wherever you work, whether it’s from home, in an inner city office block or business park I highly recommend spending 20-30 minutes a few times a week in a place that provides you with a sense of nature. It will benefit your mental health tremendously whilst lowering your stress levels.

If you are a manager, encouraging your team to do the same will reduce workplace stress levels and help boost the collective mental health, productivity and innovation of your team.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about the benefits of nature, ways to reduce stress or how I use nature in my coaching please get in touch.

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