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An Illinois River Almanac

Jason Haupt's Energy and Environment Blog
 MG 2270

The Mind Mending Power of Nature


I am sure that no one will deny that nature is exceptionally beneficial. Trees and other plants provide oxygen; nature provides recreational opportunities and food for some. Access to water without rivers, streams, and lakes would be much more difficult. However, there are some much less tangible benefits to nature as well. Nature provides mental renewal, reduces healing time for patients in hospitals, and can help to reduce stress and behavioral issues in children.

A great deal of research is available on the benefits that nature has on reducing mental fatigue in adults. The definition of nature in these studies is not out in the "backwoods," but rather exposure to green space.

  • In some studies, simply the view of nature was enough to reduce the effects of mental stress in both adults and children.
  • In addition to reducing the effects of mental stress, children with Attention Deficit Disorder Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) showed improvement in symptoms while both medicated and unmedicated. Children that participated in a guided hike through green spaces showed notable improvements. More information can be found in "A Potential Natural Treatment for Attentions-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence From a National Study" By F.E. Kuo and A.F. Taylor
  • Nature has even been shown to reduce aggression and violence in highly urbanized areas. More information can be found in "Aggression and Violence in the Inner City Effects of Environment via Mental Fatigue" By F.E. Kuo and W.C. Sullivan
  • Views of nature can speed recovery time for patients in hospitals and reduce the stress of being in a hospital for both patients and family.
  • When nature is at the very least visible:
  • Creativity, attention span, and comprehension increase in the school environment
  • Stress is reduced in all environments

Nature has many benefits to mental health in both adults and children. Getting out in nature, taking a hike, sitting quietly on a bench under a tree, or just taking a walk in the park will benefit you greatly.

If you have questions about the benefits of nature or would like some ideas of where to get out in nature contact Jason Haupt (jdhaupt@illinois.edu).



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