Natural Joy

How being in nature is shown to benefit one’s mental health


Photo by E. Schafer

An example of the serenity nature brings to one’s mentality.

Ellie Schafer, Viking Voices Co-Editor

Spring is just around the corner and with the change of season comes warmer weather. As the days get longer, more people are spending time outside. Little do they know that along with hanging out with friends and getting exercise, the fresh air and natural surroundings are changing their mentality, lowering their anxiety and letting their brains reset.

According to a 2015 study led by Gregory Bratman, it has been scientifically proven that spending time outdoors brightens moods, lessens depression and enhances creativity. Since the world is so digital these days, most Americans spend an average of seven hours on some sort of screen per day, according to As one might imagine, this amount of time on a phone or laptop does terrible things to one’s eyes, attention span, anxiety levels and one’s mood. With teenage anxiety and depression at an all-time high, going outside and taking a break does more than one might think.

Kiely McEnroe (9) agrees that turning off her phone and just enjoying nature makes her a better person. McEnroe believes that being in nature, and stepping away from her phone, allows her to unwind and feel at peace.

“When I am outside and I turn my phone off it makes the activity a lot more peaceful, less stressful and enjoyable. It makes my overall mood a lot better for the rest of the day,” McEnroe said.

With all the stress and tension that school causes students to feel, it is nice to get out for a weekend and let one’s brain take a moment. There have been numerous experiments conducted that have proven the effects of going outside, walking, biking, hiking and other outdoor activities as beneficial to people.

Saffy Evans (9) values her time spent outdoors. She feels that being in the forest with no distractions really allows her to grasp the magnificence of nature and connects her to the earth.

“I went on a backpacking trip at camp, and just being in the woods watching the river, I felt at peace because I felt detached from the regular world and appreciated the beauty around me,” Evans said.

Studies show how impressive nature’s healing powers are; to perk up one’s exhausted brain all one needs to do is look at nature, something green. It’s also been proven that nature can restore and strengthen mental capacities, increase attention and focus.

Jonathan Duncan (11) has experienced the calm serenity that nature has over one’s emotions and mentality for himself.

“Being outside absolutely improves my mood and reduces stress. It’s nice to be out in the sun for once, but I enjoy it more for the sounds and the breeze and the quiet. I think it’s because it’s human nature – people were made to live their lives outside, and it’s stressful and unnatural to live the way we do today,” Duncan said. “I go out to my backyard often after school or work and just sit for a minute. In those rare moments where I get to do a weekend hike, I feel better both for the exercise and for being outdoors.”