June 13, 2024

By: AEOP Membership Council Member Julie Yang

The beautiful blue sky stretches on and on, like a never ending ocean high above. A breeze brushes against your face, gentle as a whisper. The grass rustles and wildflowers dance. Patches of golden sunlight ripple ahead of you, and up in the branches of the trees, birds chirp joyously. A smile brightens your face as all your tensions are released, carried away by the soft wind. 

I know we all have felt the transformative power of nature. When negative emotions, like stress and frustration creep in, nature calms us and raises our spirits. In addition to helping us feel better, nature impacts us all in powerful ways – not only in the present, but also in the years to come.

When we are at home, at school, at work, or in any indoor place for too long, our brains experience sensory overload – a state where our senses take in more information than can be processed. This results in feelings of tenseness, stress and exhaustion. However, going outdoors can relieve these feelings. Because being in nature has many calming effects, even spending a few minutes outdoors can help our minds relax and release tension, lower stress levels and reduce rates of depression and anxiety. 

Researchers at the University of California, Davis claim that, “Nature can help decrease your anxiety levels and can help lessen stress and feelings of anger.” Not only does being in nature alleviate negative emotions, it also promotes positive ones, like peace, joy and optimism. These positive emotions don’t disappear when we return indoors, but instead positively impact the rest of our day, improving our focus, motivation and attention levels. Since health complications can be products of a buildup of negative emotions, nature can help heal and prevent these complications.

In addition to boosting our mental health, being outdoors also has a multitude of benefits for our physical health. It relieves our stress, which in turn reduces muscle tension and lowers blood pressure. Since high blood pressure is a risk factor in many heart-related illnesses, lowered blood pressure can play a vital role in preventing serious cardiac diseases. 

Going outdoors also increases vitamin D levels. Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium, which is vital to the health of our bones. Vitamin D also plays a role in defending our immune systems, helping to fight infections, and reducing the risk of some cancers. Studies have also shown that when we are outdoors during the day and engage in physical activity, our quality of sleep will also improve. Since our bodies rest and heal during sleep,  going outdoors and absorbing nature is one of the best ways to help boost our entire wellbeing. 

Nature also provides fresh air for our lungs. Air quality is important. Trees and plants help filter out pollutants. Breathing in fresh air not only clears our heads, but decreases our risk of respiratory diseases. These benefits play a role in increasing life expectancy in the future.

In conclusion, it is no wonder that nature can change our whole outlook on life. From the wind blowing against our faces, to the birds soaring high in the sky, we can all learn to appreciate life a little more. Instead of worrying about life, connecting with nature can revolutionize our mindsets, bringing us the hope of a future full of light, joy and freedom. Now the choice is yours. The next time you have a break in your schedule, will you choose to experience for yourself the amazing wonders Mother Nature has in store?

Works cited:

“The great outdoors? Exploring the mental health benefits of natural environments.” Frontiers in Psychology, National Center for Biotechnology Information, October 21, 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4204431/#B36

“Sensory overload is real and can affect any combination of the body’s five senses: learn ways to deal with it.” Queensland Health, July 15, 2022.


“Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health.” Yale Environment 360.


“Vitamin D.” The Nutrition Source, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, March 07, 2023.


“3 ways getting outside into nature helps improve your health.” Health, University of California, Davis, June 04, 2023.


“The wellness benefits of the great outdoors.” US Forest Service. https://www.fs.usda.gov/features/wellness-benefits-great-outdoors

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