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health

How Spending Time in Nature Can Boost Your Healthy Brain Power

Author: NeuroGym Team | April 21, 2017

What do negative thoughts, lack of creativity, and a bad memory have in common? They can all be treated with the same thing!

It’s not a pill, or “ancient medicine.” You don’t have to see a doctor or specialist to reap the benefits.

So what's free, accessible to all, and an excellent remedy for a variety of mental and emotional issues?

Going for a hike in nature. Happy Earth Day! 

According to the latest science, technology-free time in the great outdoors can produce some serious improvements in your health.

Urban environments did not have this effect, by the way. It seems the more time we spend in urban environments, the more stressed and anxious we are. With so many sights, sounds, smells, and people around, our senses are overwhelmed.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy.

John Muir

Here are 4 ways you can improve your mental and physical well-being by spending time in nature.

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1. Turn Off The Negative Chatter Inside

One study found that just 90 minutes in nature made a noticeable difference. The participants reported less rumination on negative thoughts, and their brain scans showed less activity in the subgenus prefrontal cortex — an area of the brain that’s been linked to mental illness risk.

If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in a pattern of negative thoughts, you can just walk it off.

2. Improve Your Creative Problem Solving Skills

Useful as technology is, it does come with downsides. For instance, attention. The ability to switch tasks rapidly cost many the ability to pay attention for long periods of time. This can lead to impaired creativity and problem-solving skills.

Researchers were curious about the effect of nature on problem-solving, so they had a group of participants head off on a 4-day camping trip, sans technology.

Half of the participants were given a test on day one before the trip started. The other half took the test on day four of the trip. They all took the same test, which measured the ability to creatively solve problems.

The results? The group that took the test on day 4 (post immersion in nature) scored 50% higher than those who took it before the trip.

You've got to get outside to think outside of the box! 

3. Sharpen your memory.

A study at the University of Michigan tested student’s memories with and without exposure to nature.

Two groups of students took a memory test. One group then went for a walk around and arboretum and the other group took a walk down city streets. The participants returned and took the same memory test again. The students who walked among trees did almost 20% better than their first score, whereas the city-walkers did not improve consistently. Something unique happened to their brain patterns when amongst the trees. 

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4. Feel more alive and inspired to take action toward your goals and dreams.

According to the latest neuroscience research, a natural environment is “awe-inspiring” for modern human beings. Time is our scarcest commodity, right? Most of us feel like we never have enough time. But when we feel a sense of awe, time seems to expand; we become more generous with our time and feel an increased sense of well-being.

So leave behind the worries of work and the confines of your indoor space, and go outside where everything around you is “strikingly vast” — even time. The mindset shift from “time scarcity” to “time abundance” is a great stress reducer and helps develop self-motivation.

5. Reconnect with your mind, body, and spirit.

The next time something is bothering you or you don't feel like yourself, try clearing your mind with a walk in nature. When you combine exercise with nature, it’s like going to the doctor — minus the bills and pills.

 By taking a hike in the quiet wilderness, you naturally increase energy and vitality. So if your life seems extra stressful and you're missing out on the self-care you need, go out into nature. Remember, the more time you spend in awe-inspiring environments, the more life satisfaction you’ll have. It's a great way to reconnect with your true self.

It's true, some issues require serious or medical attention, however, sometimes a scary symptom has a simple solution. So before you make any rash decisions, try a quick healthy mindset shift first. Get outside, walk around, breathe deeply. While it may not sound profound, it's scientifically proven that spending time in nature is all it takes to regain some true, inner peace.

What's next? 

After you go for your hike this weekend to reconnect with the earth and your mind, body, and spirit . . . join us for a free NeuroGym training session where we use the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience research to help you reprogram your brain for success. Start accomplishing your goals!

Register for Free NeuroGym Training Sessions

We'd love to hear from you! 

Have you tried this? Does spending time in nature help you? Let us know in the comments below!

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About The Author

NeuroGym Team

NeuroGym Team: NeuroGym’s Team of experts consists of neuroscientists, researchers, and staff who are enthusiasts in their fields. The team is committed to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing the latest scientific findings to help you change your life by understanding and using the mindset, skill set and action set to change your brain.

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