How to nurture your mental wellbeing with nature
Issued: 6 Sep 5 min read

Delve into the remarkable benefits nature can bring to your life. Learn how modern life affects us and find ways to restore balance and wellbeing.

Picture rays of sunshine on your skin, a breeze in the trees, and the gentle melodies of chirping birds serenading the sky.

This is the magical symphony that nature orchestrates, a timeless remedy for your mental and physical health.

Reduced blood pressure, lowered mortality from cardiovascular disease, and improved mood and stress levels are just some of the health benefits nature can provide.

But societal pressures like urbanisation, social media saturation and the fast-paced nature of modern life are causing a disconnect with the natural world, and a rise in mental health conditions.

From 2007-2017, mental health and substance use disorders increased by 13%, and in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety and depression increased by 25% globally.

It’s important to note these rises were not caused by a single issue, and there is no single solution that will fix them.

However, the benefits of spending time in nature can’t be overlooked.

120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health, and if people spent just half an hour in their local park each week, cases of depression could decrease by 7%.

But what if you live far away from natural spaces, or have little time? How can you incorporate nature into your daily life?

Here are five easy ways.

1. Spend time in the morning sun

Allowing morning sunlight to reach your eyes without a barrier like glasses or windows is one way to improve your mental wellbeing.

Getting sunlight in your eyes shortly after you awaken stimulates the production of cortisol, which helps tell your body it's time to rise.

Try getting sunlight in the earlier hours of the morning (and as the sun sets) to help optimise your circadian rhythm, which leads to improved sleep quality and overall wellbeing. It also helps you avoid Queensland’s harsh UV rays. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using sunscreen anytime the UV index is over 3.

Be mindful of overexposure to the sun. If you are consistently outside for long periods, ensure you use appropriate sun protection.

Indoor houseplants sitting on a table in front of a window during the day.

Introducing plants indoors is proven to improve mood levels and productivity.

2. Bring nature indoors

If you can’t get out to nature, bringing nature to you still provides significant benefits.

In one experiment, participants who spent 5-10 minutes in a room with houseplants reported increased happiness and satisfaction compared to those with none.

Along with your home, office greenery also helps you connect with nature. Plants in the workplace are known to  alleviate stress and negativity. They also boost productivity, performance, and job satisfaction by more than 10% (PDF, 413 KB).

There are plenty of native Australian plants that grow well indoors, making for perfect additions to your home or office. This includes the Kentia palm, Moreton Bay chestnut, and Palm-lily to name a few.

3. Go on a nature walk

Don't underestimate the power of a simple walk among the trees!

Spending time in nature and connecting with its sounds, smells and textures reduces stress, and promotes relaxation and rejuvenation.

Trees release stress-reducing essential oils called phytoncides, which are proven to lower blood pressure and promote the production of cancer-fighting proteins in your bloodstream.

Use 'Find a Park' to get an idea of the National Parks and Forests closest to you. You can tailor them to suit your preferences, and each park’s discovery centre provides incredible knowledge on the area’s flora, fauna, culture, and history.

4. Start a nature journal

A nature journal is a powerful tool that enhances your outdoor experiences.

It allows you to slow down and appreciate your surroundings, encouraging you to engage your senses and observe the details of nature up close.

Whether you write detailed notes, create beautiful drawings, or jot down inspiring poems, your journal becomes a personal reflection of your unique experiences and memories.

So, grab a journal, venture into nature, and get creative!

Keep in mind that some of your findings might be relevant to citizen science apps like FrogID and WomSAT. Your observations may help scientists identify trends and patterns that can guide conservation efforts.

Here is a full list of Citizen Science projects (PDF, 390.4KB) .

Garbage bag with different trash on wooden background. Top view. Flat lay.

We all play a part in preserving nature for future generations.

5. Reduce your plastic use

Australians generate a staggering 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, equivalent to roughly 100kg per person. If these unsustainable ways continue, there will be no escaping the dire environmental consequences.

Preserving the world’s natural beauty requires immediate action, and everyone can get involved. Taking small steps to reduce, reuse, and recycle can make a huge impact.

Here are some effortless actions you can incorporate into your daily life right now:

  • Bring reusable bags made of cloth or mesh when you go shopping.
  • Opt for refillable water bottles and coffee cups.
  • Choose products with minimal packaging.
  • Avoid using plastic utensils.

The hustle and bustle of modern life can make it easy to overlook the gifts of the natural world, but its benefits are too great to ignore.

Immersing yourself in nature enhances your mental health, brings respite from stress, and cultivates tranquillity and happiness. It fosters mindfulness, and sparks creativity.

So, why not embrace it, and safeguard it for future generations?

This content was developed by the Department of Environment and Science and reviewed by our partners, the Queensland Mental Health Commission.