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The Impact of Nature Exposure

Exposure to nature is beneficial to mental health. Therefore, activities including green areas or aspects of nature such as plants, Earth, and water can be therapeutic (Ramshini et al.,2018). Scientific literature suggests that “green time” improves mental health and physical movement. (Crnic & Kondo, 2019). Nature exposure is linked to quicker recovery of illness and a boost in attitude and self-esteem. Involving oneself in nature and quite literally getting your hands dirty with the elements decreases the risk of chronic disease and loneliness. Something is so satisfying about feeling the grass beneath your feet and breathing in the fresh morning air. Whether it is merely taking a walk and appreciating the sights and sounds, planting a garden, or
improving Mother Nature by volunteering.


Researchers have discovered when children interact with the natural environment, they improve behavior in the classroom environment, such as task completion, focus, and ability to follow directions (Swank et al., 2015). During the teen years, school, work, and social lives routinely take precedence over time spent outdoors. Busy teens might claim that there is no time to enjoy the outdoors. (Birch et al., 2020). However, adolescents can interact with nature by picking plants, skipping rocks in the pond, fishing, or swimming. Another option is for teens to seek part-time employment that immerses them in nature, such as working at a garden center, landscaping, youth camps, or volunteering. Working outdoors can be fun, calming, and a booster in self-confidence and self-reliance because they see the effects of their efforts.

Wildlife can also be a natural teacher. A study of three participants indicated that equine therapy positively impacted young people. For example, animals can help children build attachments, follow procedures, gain bodily awareness, reduce impulsivity, and help them feel free and calm. Additionally, animals can improve executive functioning skills, teach safe boundaries and kind touch, and promote empowerment (Naste et al., 2017).


Take a moment to think about how you feel when you spend time outside doing something you love. Then, challenge yourself to take a walk, eat a meal on the patio, complete homework, or plan outside. Better yet, do an outdoor activity with someone you love. Just a few
minutes outside daily can help our bodies reset and tremendously impact our physical and mental health.

Currently, I am an intern pursuing my Master’s in Counseling and Psychology from St. Mary’s University. I received my undergraduate degree as an Academic and Behavioral Strategist from Mankato State University. Before interning at Lighthouse Counseling, I was a special education teacher who served Indigenous youth. In addition, I implemented programs to ensure the growth of educational and social/emotional learning.

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