With one in every four adults set to experience it at some stage in their life, anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia.
As more research comes to light about the impact that lifestyle factors such as air pollution and living in urban areas can have on mental health complaints, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: getting out and being one with nature is an anxiety-sufferers BFF.
By now, we all know the deal. You can eat your way to better mental health. You can workout to relieve anxiety. Hell, you can even buy a weighted blanket to provide comfort during anxious episodes.
But if you do one thing to help with your anxiety in 2018, make it a simple promise to immerse yourself in nature at every available opportunity.
Research suggests that just thirty minutes each week equals your ‘minimum dose’ of nature and can significantly help with poor mental health. Another study claims that looking at nature stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals (like dopamine) in the brain, which in turn makes you happier. Nature lowers your stress hormones, reduces muscle tension and lowers your blood pressure, which makes you feel more relaxed and grounded.
But before you start worrying about the fact that you work long-ass hours and live in a high-rise apartment block in the centre of a busy city, stop yo’ fretting. We don’t mean that you have to dedicate all of your free time to hiking trails and start a fully-stocked veggie patch in your backyard (although you do you, sister!).
We just mean that you should make a conscious effort to incorporate nature into your life, wherever possible. Now, that could look like spending your Saturday morning ambling around a farmers market with a coffee in hand, picking up whatever organic produce takes your fancy.
Or, it could mean walking to the beach in the morning and simply wiggling your toes in the sand to soothe your fraught nervous system. Or heading to your nearest park with your yoga mat and easing into your morning with a gentle, outdoor flow.