October 10th is World Mental Health Day, a day to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. First celebrated in 1992, the holiday celebrates and raises awareness about the universal human need to take care of one’s self, specifically one’s mental health. Everyone’s process of taking care of themselves is different, though there some common themes amongst things that make people feel well. Spending time outdoors in nature, going for walks, gardening, fresh air and plants are all things that are scientifically proven to help people manage their mental health. This World Mental Health Day, or any day for that matter, consider how you can incorporate things that help you feel well into your daily life.
According to Harvard Health, “Spending at least 20 to 30 minutes immersed in a nature setting was associated with the biggest drop in cortisol levels. After that time, additional stress-reduction benefit accrued more slowly. Time of day and specific settings didn’t affect stress levels. So the next time you need to de-stress or just work on your mental well-being, find a nature setting you enjoy and spend some time there.”
Continuing from another Harvard Health study, “There is strong evidence that spending time in nature is beneficial for various aspects of our mental well-being; providing stress relief, reduced anxiety, and improvement in one’s mood. A number of studies compared cortisol (a stress hormone) levels before and after spending time outdoors, ranging from exercising outdoors or gardening, to forest therapy/bathing (i.e.: walk or hike in a forest). They all saw a decrease in cortisol concentration suggesting that the time spent outdoors and in green space may reduce the feeling of stress. Furthermore, according to one study, the stress reduction benefits from spending time in nature were more striking for those who experience chronic stress.”
Time spent in nature and gardening not only improves mental health, but spending time in the great outdoors can also provide immense benefits to your physical health. As explained in another report by Harvard Health, “not only does spending time in nature improve our mental wellbeing, but it also improves our physical well-being, such as immune health and blood pressure. Time spent in nature has been associated with increased expression of anti-cancer proteins and natural killer (NK) cells– immune cells that can kill tumor cells or cells infected with viruses.”
Mental and physical wellness is important, and finding way to maintain one’s health is critical to that goal. A great thing about gardening and spending time around plant life is that it’s relatively easy to do, compared to something like weight training or becoming a runner. All you have to do to start is find somewhere outside that brings about a sense of calm. Maybe you’re already a gardener. McHenry and Lake County are both great places to find ways to be outside. This World Mental Health Day, take the holiday as a prompt to begin a horticulture therapy routine, find a place to sit outside, or to plan a hike.
Whispering Hills Garden and Landscape Center is a full service landscape center and nursery located in Cary, Illinois. Stop in today for our full selection of fall annuals, mums and autumn decor!