How Nature Can Help Build Your Mental Strength

Published on April 12th, 2021

Updated on January 3rd, 2024

How Nature Can Help Build Your Mental Strength

At some point in your life, you have probably been told to take a walk and calm down or step outside and get some fresh air. Going outside seems to be a cliché way of telling someone they need to take a break. And actually, going outside is a healthy way to help reset the brain and increase mental clarity, strength, and health.

What Is Mental Strength?

Mental strength is your ability to handle pressure, stress, and adversity and continue to perform at your best. Mental strength has to do with your ability to push through and keep going even when things are hard. It does not mean that times won’t be challenging or that you won’t have setbacks at times. Even mentally strong people have rough days, the strength lies in how they bounce back.

Think about a physically strong person, you know, maybe it’s a professional bodybuilder, an athlete, a marathon runner, or a physically fit friend. They are not always successful, right? Some days they struggle with their workout, or they have a terrible performance. Their strength is in their ability to bounce back and come back to the workout the next day. This is the same with mental strength. And just like physical muscles, the mental muscle needs to be stretched and worked repeatedly.

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Ways Nature Can Help Build Mental Strength

1) Nature Improves Mental Health

In order to develop and build mental strength, it’s important to have a healthy awareness of your mental health. If you are prone to anxiety or depressive symptoms, you may have to spend more time managing and healing those symptoms.

A 2015 study found that a 90-minute walk in nature may reduce ruminating thoughts and other brain processes linked to mental illness. Spending time in nature helps to reduce those circling thoughts that seem to take over the mind. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) struggle with depressive symptoms due to the weather and change in vitamin D. Even people who are not diagnosed with SAD struggle with the lack of vitamin D, especially during the winter months. Being outside, even on cloudy days, increases vitamin D in the body.

2) Physical Activity to Improve Strength

Physical activity improves physical strength and also mental strength. Even just going for a walk requires you to push through the difficulty of wanting to quit. While your muscles fatigue, your mind may start to fight against you. The practice of pushing through the fatigue, the mind becomes more durable and better able to handle adversity.

A 2012 study found that time spent in the forest can help reduce the level of stress hormones in the body. Other studies have found decreased hypertension and cardiovascular issues possibly associated with time spent in nature.

3) A Time to Reflect

Time spent in nature gives you time to reflect and reset habits that are not working well for you. For example, if you are struggling with negative self-talk, use your time in nature to change your thinking.

This time can be used to develop a plan, rehearse a needed conversation, or just notice the world. Time spent in nature helps slow the brain down to refocus and reflect on your needs and goals.

4) The Benefits of Water

Some people feel the distinct call to be near water. When they are outside in the heat, they feel a call to be in the cool water. Living or spending consistent time close to water, helps to calm and reduce stress and anxiety. This helps to increase clarity, happiness, and resilience. A study out of England found that people living within one mile of the coast were 22% less likely to experience anxiety and depression symptoms.

We may not all be able to live on the coast but increasing the time spent in and near the water and help improve mental health. Improved mental health helps to improve mental strength and the ability to bounce back from the difficulties of everyday life.

Nature: The Mind’s Personal Trainer

Being mentally strong does not mean bad things never happen, or you never have a bad day. It means you have the resilience to push through the bad and focus on the positive. It also takes some practice and intention to focus on developing mental strength.

Unlike the opposite of physical strength, which is often physical weakness, mental strength’s opposite is traumatized, untrained, or worn out. This means you may not see yourself as a mentally strong person, but you likely have more strength than you know. It means you may need to spend some time with a therapist healing the wounds of the past and learning how to use your tools to increase your mental strength. One of those tools will likely be nature.

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