Stress is one of the leading causes of mental health disorders and it’s important to recognize the mental health symptoms and take care of them before the symptoms get worse. Being outside in natural light can assist with many disorders to include seasonal affective disorder. Ecotherapy has been proven to reduce stress when individuals are out in their own environment exploring. This approach is based on the idea people have a deep connection with the earth and their environment.
Ways Nature Can Impact Mental Health
If you are feeling a little down in general, there are several steps to take to improve your mental health and that is by going outside and enjoying nature. Creating a garden or farming can help improve mood, relationships, and skills working in the garden or farming. Growing your own vegetables can have a satisfying effect on the end result of the crop. If you are one that loves animals and have the required room for the animals, it can be beneficial and help improve your mood being around farm animals such as chickens, goats, and ducks. Not only can the animals be companion animals, but they can also help provide food for the family.
Visiting a nearby park that has trails, tennis courts, basketball courts, etc can assist with getting fresh air, exercise, and release stress. Grab the camera and take some photos of the scenery around you and create a scrapbook that can help improve your mental health and give yourself a sense of accomplishment.
If you enjoy a peaceful environment, grabbing your yoga mat and bringing it outside to do yoga and meditation can be rewarding. Yoga is known to have many benefits including increasing your strength, balance, and flexibility. It can help reduce back pain, arthritis symptoms, and help improve heart function. Meditation is known to reduce stress, reduce anxiety and improve emotional health.
Camping can have many benefits on overall mental health. Camping can make you happier, promote increased exercise, improve mood and reduce stress. Visiting West Virginia state parks can provide the perfect getaway by helping you get out into nature, get in the water, and see historical sites. West Virginia is considered the mountain state and the Capacon Resort State Park has over 6,000 acres of fun allowing you to relax and have plenty of adventures. If you looking to go camping in a remote area of West Virginia, the Pressley Retreat Almost Haven campground is a perfect adventure. There are plenty of walking trails, bike trails and you can enjoy a bonfire under the stars. The sites are child and pet friendly and you will be able to enjoy some of the local wildlife in the area. The campground is unique and requires carrying in and carry-out trash.
The Black Barn Farm Wooded site is a remote campground that is privately owned and operated. Recently the campground incorporated a civil war-inspired tent on a platform to accommodate campers. The tent can fit two campers, has a fire pit, solar shower, and a wood stove for those colder nights. The farm was established in the 1800s and is five miles from Shepherdstown and the Potomac River 1.2 miles away. Don’t forget your fishing pole as the river is known for trout. Other activities to help with mental health wellness are canoeing, kayaking, and the local farmers’ market.
Visit a Waterfall
The sound of a waterfall can bring a calming feeling and if you love waterfalls, you don’t want to miss the Blackwater Falls State Park. The waterfall comes from the Blackwater River and falls five stories and then flows through an eight-mile gorge. The water is called black due to the tannic acid falling from the hemlock and spruce trees.
Sandstone Falls is another perfect location to visit to clear the mind. The falls are located in the New River Gorge National River. There are a boardwalk and beach located in the park but be sure to visit the visitor center first to explore the exhibits of the watershed, resources, and history of the New River Gorge. There is also an overlook area off route 20 in Hinton that shows 600 feet above the river. Don’t forget your camera to grab a memory photo.
Mental health is extremely important to our overall function and it’s important to get out in nature to help reduce those high levels of stress that could potentially affect our brain. Spending about 20-30 minutes a couple of days a week will greatly improve your overall lifestyle.