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How being in nature can help your mental health

Have you ever noticed that when you are in your garden, looking at flowers, watching the birds and butterflies or being creative with nature in mind; that you feel calm, aware of what you are doing in that moment and the worries of your day disappeared?

Studies support the idea that plants and nature have a calming, healing effect on the mind and body. The term “Biophilia’ by Edward Wilson (1984) suggested that humans evolved in nature and are happiest in a natural setting. Wilson felt there is a primal biological need for humans to be around nature, flowers and greenery. Kaplan & Kaplan’s (1989) theory of ‘Attention Restoration Theory’ suggests that nature helps the mind escape and helps hold our attention. It helps to restore our energy which is being drained from the daily stresses in our world. Roger Ullrich (1984) felt we are genetically geared to look for threats and danger which increase our stress levels. In nature, those threats and danger seem less obvious and are stress levels reduce. Nature helps with our recovery from psychological and physiological stress.

Being outside physically benefits our health if we are being active and less sedentary. Gardening is a great form of physical activity for all age groups and abilities. Being active is very important for our mental wellbeing. The sunshine is a great source of vitamin D important for bone health, immune health and mental health. Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and if you are lucky enough to have a garden you may already be doing so. However, there are many of us who don’t have gardens that would welcome a safe place in nature that allows us to explore plants, grow vegetables, flowers and art.

If you would like to improve your wellbeing through being outside in nature, then The GAP Project by Dorset Mind and Meyers Estate Agent can help you. Our eco-therapy project in Dorchester allows you to take part in many activities including planting, growing and harvesting sunflowers and tomatoes, nature watching, meditation-based workshops and nature-based art. If you would like to take part or find out more, please email

Thanks to Sharon for writing this blog.

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