How Nature Can Improve Your Mental Health

Students walking on a grassy path behind Wilson Hall.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

In the bustling modern world, time is always short, and the never ending stress is always piling on. The expectations set by peers, educators, and even family members can undoubtedly be overwhelming.

In response to the rising levels of stress, many people will turn to unhealthy means of stress relief such as drugs or alcohol. While this may help in the moment, unhealthy coping mechanisms can cause long term damage to both body and mind.

Instead, consider getting back in touch with nature when stress is becoming too much to handle.

With seemingly little free time in the day, nature can sometimes fall by the wayside. With most Americans, technology tends to take precedence over nature. It is estimated that Americans spend around 10 hours a day looking at a computer screen (Weir, 2020). Extended screen usage can contribute to fatigue and cause eye strain. Technology should by no means be given up entirely; however, limiting screen time can be quite beneficial to overall health.

Rob types on a laptop with books and papers.

Being in nature offers a natural way for our bodies to “reset,” so to speak. Surrounding yourself with the lush flora of a forest or the gentle chirps of the morning birds is an experience like no other. Natural environments offer a stark contrast to that of the harsh concrete of the city or the noisy cars of the suburbs. Exposure to nature can offer many other benefits as well, with people reporting a heightened sense of self after finding a connection within nature. These benefits are dependent on the individual and may appear in different ways.

Existing research on the relationship between mental health and nature suggests that being exposed to nature has significant impacts on improving stress levels and general cognitive functioning. Additionally, it has been found that exposure to nature can also decrease the occurrence of symptoms for anxiety disorders like ADHD (Bratman et al., 2019).

Rob stands with his arms crossed, smiling in the library.

Bratman, Gregory N., et al. “Nature and Mental Health: An Ecosystem Service Perspective.” Science Advances, vol. 5, no. 7, 2019,
Weir, Kirsten. “Nurtured by Nature.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, 1 Apr. 2020,

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Story by:
Robert Zoroiwchak, senior psychology major, Wellness Center intern

Photos by:
Stephanie Batista, business management major

Produced by:
Joseph Conte, junior community and environmental planning major