The Impact of Nature on Our wellbeing

Author and environmental advocate John Muir proclaimed, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” American naturalist Henry David Thoreau also appreciated profound benefits of the outdoors with his words “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” Marie Curie, first woman to win a Nobel Prize, exclaimed, “All my life through, the new sights of nature made me rejoice like a child.” Such quotes suggest that many before us have experienced a certain wonder regarding their time in nature. Are these simply the words of a chosen few or is there something more to explore? According to research, literature, and additional lived experiences of many, yes, indeed, there is absolutely a connection between nature and our personal wellbeing.

What is the relationship?

Consider personal wellbeing as a mix between both physical and mental health. Physical health being associated with our level of fitness and the absence of disease, and mental health as highlighting our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing as well as the absence of mental illness. Both physical and mental health interact in ways that either enhance or harm our overall personal wellbeing. Studies and current literature explore not only the influence of environments in which we live on our personal wellbeing, but also the impact of dedicated time in nature regardless of where we call home. Consistently, an increase in nature-based activities shows direct correlation to improved personal wellbeing. Specifically noted are enhanced regulation and navigation of emotions, cognition, anxiety, depression, immune system, pain management, blood pressure, and attention. Time outdoors is also aligned with a sense of peace, freedom from judgement, and an escape from everyday struggles as experienced in often-overstimulating environments of work or city living. Studies support the mere perception of improved health and life satisfaction growing with outdoor activities. Additionally, researchers noted improved confidence, perceived capability, and the benefits of feeling socially connected within those who engaged in dedicated outdoor experiences. Simply put, a walk in the woods is good for far more than what might meet the eye.

What does it take?

While any amount of time outdoors is beneficial, recent studies find two hours a week as enhancing the likelihood of improved health and psychological wellbeing. In fact, some countries have taken to prescribing “forest bathing” as part of established and respected therapeutic practice. Development of routines that incorporate the creation of new and healthier habits around dedicated time spent outdoors is also important to consider.

Mindfulness in nature

Common acknowledgement exists concerning the relationship between our senses of hearing, smell, touch, and sight and the noted health effects of time in nature. One study demonstrates that what we see in the forest actually enhances our sense of comfort and relaxation. In terms of mindfulness, time in nature provides us with the opportunity to take in all the amazing and awe-inspiring sounds, smells, physical sensations, and sights that are traditionally associated with grounding techniques. Want to learn more? Tune in to Headspace at for even more insight into how nature connects with and has the power to influence our collective wellbeing.

What’s in your neck of the woods?

Multiple options exist to support time in the beauty of Southeastern Michigan, and perhaps you already have a favorite trail or park. The list below highlights several area locations that may be in your neighborhood or a short walk, bike, car, or bus ride away. Be safe, be present, and enjoy our great outdoors! Beyond the backyard, AllTrails website: Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation: Michigan Department of Natural Resources: Huron-Clinton Metroparks:

Discover walk and talk therapy

Did you know that Deepwater Counseling offers walk and talk therapy? Contact us here (link to contact form) to learn more about taking therapy sessions into the great outdoors!
  • By Laura Stahl, Counseling Intern