Skip to main content

Please note: Effective March 11, the Davis Avenue Parking Garage will be closed.

Visit our Visitor Information page for details.

Health library

Boost your mood with the power of nature

A man and boy on a hiking trail look at the man’s binoculars.

April 19, 2024—Life can be stressful. And finding ways to quiet our brains can be a challenge. Getting in touch with nature could give your mood a boost—while reducing anxiety and stress. Luckily, it doesn't take much.

The science

Studies have shown that spending time outside around plants, trees, streams, lakes or oceans can help our mental well-being. Being exposed to natural environments can:

  • Improve working memory.
  • Encourage flexible thinking.
  • Restore your ability to concentrate and pay attention.
  • Improve your mood if you're feeling depressed.
  • Reduce anxiety.
  • Give you more positive emotions and moods on a regular basis.
  • Reduce overall negativity.

Tap into the nature cure

The great news is that you don't need much time with nature to get happier. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), some research suggests two hours a week of recreational nature time is a good goal. But you don't need to do it all at once—and even a little time spent outside can offer real benefits.

To up your nature intake, try these simple tips:

  • Take a walk in the park or just down the street. You can benefit from spending time with natural elements, such as trees, whether you're hiking in the wilderness or appreciating a tree in the city.
  • Roam with a purpose. Look up and down and all around for birds and animals on your trek. Identify different trees and plants. Bring a camera, a phone or a notebook to record your findings.
  • Let nature speak to you. Ditch your headphones. Being in the moment is more relaxing than distracting yourself with piped-in music or podcasts.
  • Go hiking, camping or picnicking. Getting outside doesn't have to cost a lot. Pack a lunch and put on your walking shoes. Plan a solo or family outing.
  • Enjoy the natural light. Give your eyes a break from electronic screens. Instead, bring a book to read or a sketchbook to draw or paint in.
  • Grow a garden. Spending time nurturing plants improves your well-being. (Here are some safety tips for outdoor gardening.) If you don't have a lot of outdoor space, grow plants and flowers in pots. Or find a space in a community garden. Social interaction with other people is an added bonus.

Stuck inside?

Even those who can't spend time outdoors can benefit from cultivating a connection with nature, according to the APA and other experts. To help grow that connection:

  • Enjoy the view. Even looking at green trees and plants through a window can improve your mood.
  • Virtual nature rocks too. Not able to get around easily? Try listening to nature recordings or watching videos.
  • Bring nature indoors. Having plants in your home or raising herbs or vegetables in a pot on the windowsill can help you feel connected to nature. (Learn more about container gardening indoors or out.)


Read more breaking news Related stories