Mental Health and Nature

Forest Bathing
Photo by Andre Furtado

Research has shown that spending time outside is good for our bodies and our minds. In Japan, a common stress therapy is “shinrin-yoku”, which translates as forest bathing.

Spending time in nature is also a recommended practice for improving the mental health of our children, as explored in the bestselling book, “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv.

While many agree that exposure to nature has a feel-good factor (who doesn't enjoy a good hike?), many Americans do not have easy access to nature. According to the Trust for Public Land, 100 million Americans don't have a park within a 10-minute walk of home. More often than not, the few parks that exist are heavily programmed with recreational activities and very little nature exists. Just look at how many parks in The Western United States consist of heavily irrigated lawns, when turf grass is generally not native to this part of the world. We paved paradise and put up a parking Lot.

Research has also shown that Gardening has positive effects on mental health. A post on the Gardening subreddit got me thinking about this. Native Plant Gardens are easily planted at your home, and bring nature in as local wildlife will recognise the native flora as food sources, nest materials and shelter. I think the sense of being closer to nature that native plant gardens bring to your doorstep, combined with the sense of purpose that gardening or yard-work provides is why Native Plant Gardening is such a stress reliever.

Tristam Bielecki

Tristam Bielecki

Garden Designer based in Los Angeles, California. Tristam specialises in planning drought tolerant and sustainable gardens with an emphasis on native plants.