With finals approaching, everyone seems to be going into overdrive to turn in last-minute assignments and resolve their pesky procrastination problem. This means sleepless nights, caffeine overdoses and of course, piles and piles of stress.
As college students, we don’t have a lot of money. So, before you go and spend your college cash on things like essential oils and salt lamps to relieve your stress, there is a completely free and scientifically proven way to help reduce stress, calm your body and help you focus better: go outside!
Research has proven that spending time outside or seeing something even as small as a plant in your room can have all sorts of amazing benefits on your physical and mental health including reducing stress levels.
The University of Minnesota published a study stating that being in nature or even just viewing scenes of nature helps to reduce blood pressure, muscle tension, heart rate and the production of stress hormones. Besides helping with the physical tolls that stress can have on our body, nature can also help with the mental problems stress presents us with– specifically, our ability to pay attention.
ADDitude, a website for parents who have children with ADHD, posted a study on the effects that the outdoors has on attention spans. In the study, one group of children with ADHD were taken outside and spent their morning in nature while another group of children was left indoors. Afterward, both groups were asked to complete assignments and do classwork for the remainder of the day. The results showed that the children who were allowed to go outside were able to stay focused on their classwork better and with less struggle than those who stayed indoors all day.
So, why does nature help solve the stress everyone goes through? It turns out, nature’s effects are directly linked to the chemicals in our brains. When viewing scenes of greenery, animals or the general outdoors, the parts of our brains associated with empathy and love light up. But, when we view urban scenes of brick walls and concrete, like the buildings most of us stay in all day, the parts associated with fear and anxiety begin to light up.
Going outside calms your body and your mind, which in turn will help you get those last-minute assignments done! There are so many artificial methods for solving stress problems but with facts like these, it is amazing to see how nature can naturally take care of you.
(Picture By Carina Hernandez)