7 Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
With courses in full swing, it is easy to get stuck indoors staring at your laptop. But remember, Autumn isn’t just about midterms and pumpkin spice lattes – it is also the perfect time to embrace the crisp, cool air and appreciate the colourful foliage by getting outside!
Research indicates that time spent in nature is connected to cognitive and mental health benefits, as well as improvements in mood and emotional well-being. So, for your next study break, explore the amazing natural areas near campus and throughout the city of Hamilton.
Benefits of spending time in nature
- Increased feelings of calmness
- Increased endorphin levels and dopamine production (promotes happiness)
- Restored capacity for concentration and attention
- Reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Reduced irritability
- Lowered blood pressure and reduced cortisol (stress hormone)
- Reduced feelings of isolation
Getting the most out of your time in nature
- Studies show that a minimum of 2 hours a week spent in nature, either at one time or over several visits, is needed to significantly increase your health and well being. Two hours may sound like a lot when you’re balancing school, personal time, and potentially work – but your health is worth the investment!
- Ensure the place you choose to go feels safe. Time in nature is only a stress antidote if you are able to properly relax and embrace the experience.
- To maximize the health benefits of being in nature, try your best to be present. Take deep breaths and pause to listen to the sounds around you.
- While a walk in the woods will help combat stress, try moving your workout outdoors. When performed regularly, exercising in nature can reduce the risk of mental health problems by up to 50%.
The Practice of Forest Bathing
The term ‘Forest Bathing’ references a physiological and psychological practice that first emerged in Japan in the 1980s. The exercise, also known as ‘Shinrin-yoku’, was developed to achieve two goals; antidote tech burnout and inspire residents to connect with and protect the country’s green spaces.
Forest Bathing is open ended in practice in the sense that there is no prescription of what an individual should experience. While guided experiences exist, forest bathing can be as simple as standing in nature and engaging with the smells, sounds, and sights the area provides you. Depending on where you are the experience will differ! For example, forest bathing in Hawaii often focuses on the location’s abundance of aromatic flowers and the salty breeze of the ocean, while in Kenya the practice would focus on its endemic plants, wild orchids, and unique population of elephants and deBrazza monkeys. If you try Forest Bathing, be sure to acknowledge and embrace the uniqueness of the space you are in!
PLACES to Embrace Nature as a McMaster Student
Join the SWC’s Walk in Nature Sessions:
Connect with nature and leave your worries behind as you unwind on a walk through Cootes Paradise! Lead by a Health Promoter from the Student Wellness Centre, you’ll participate in a 50-minute walk that incorporates guided mindfulness exercises. Meet new friends, learn new skills, and connect with the beautiful nature surrounding Mac’s campus with Walk-In-Nature.
We will meet beside the Second Cup on the first floor of PGCLL then walk to Cootes together. If you have questions or concerns, please email Connor Blakeborough at firstname.lastname@example.org
Explore the Hamilton Area:
Check out the Nature @ McMaster website to learn more about the natural areas surrounding campus and throughout Hamilton. The website even gives you directions from campus!
Fall Foliage/ Lookout Points
- Bayfront Park
- Desjardins Trail
- Kelso Conservation Area
- Princess Point (Cootes Paradise)
- Hamilton Waterfront Trail
Wheelchair Friendly Trails
For an extended nature experience, consider going camping! Here are some provincial park campsites that are under 3 hours away from Mac:
- Turkey Point – 1 hour 15 min drive from McMaster
- Long Point – 1 hour 31 min drive from McMaster
- Pinery – 2 hours 5 min drive from McMaster
- Wasaga – 2 hours 7 min drive from McMaster
- Awenda – 2 hours 25 min drive from McMaster