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Take A Hike!

How to connect with nature and improve your mental health as a student,

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With all the readings, quizzes and tests students have to go through, the stress can really start to pile on. Luckily, Mother Nature can help with that! Yes, that's right, connecting with nature has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.

For people at risk of mental health challenges (aka many students) connecting with nature can help reduce anxiety and depression related symptoms. In a study at the University of Essex, they found that taking walks through nature reduced depression score by 71% compared to those who walked through a mall.

Many scientists believe this is because humans have an innate need to connect with nature. However, due to urbanization, it may be difficult for many people to get to the outdoors as often as they would like.

Here are some ways to become one with Mother Nature.

Head Outside

commons.wikimedia.org / Via medicaldaily.com

Just get right into the thick of it! Find a beautiful park, garden or forest and hang out there! Even a nice greenhouse will do. You could sit and relax, take a book or a picnic, and maybe bring a few friends or some dogs. Hanging out with friends can also help improve mood, so why not combine it with the outdoors for maximum effect! Twenty minutes outside is all it takes.

Gardening

Frances Archer / Via journals.sagepub.com

Get your green thumbs ready! Many studies have also shown that taking care of plants can greatly improve mental health. In a 2011 study, subjects were given a stressful task, however after 30 minutes of gardening, their cortisol levels (the hormone associated with stress) were reduced! Find a local horticulture club or community garden, where you can meet new people and hang out with friends. Even taking care of a few houseplants can give us a sense of purpose and responsibility.

Sports

Tracy Woo / Via psyk-info.regionsyddanmark.dk

Winter, spring, summer, whatever the season, there's always plenty of options for sports to do outside! Skiing, tobogganing, swimming and basketball can all be done outside! Even after an hour walk outside, participants in a 2007 study reported improved self esteem and decreased anger, depression, fatigue and tension. Round up a few friends and go for a ski or play a bit of tennis!

Netflix

BBC Earth / Via ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

You heard that right! There have been studies that have shown that even listening to the sounds of nature or looking at images of trees have a calming effect. In a 2013 study, participants recovered more quickly from a stressful task when looking at images of nature compared to those looking at images of buildings. So cozy up and turn on your favourite nature documentary.

This information has been provided through the Wellness Education Centre. We are a student-driven safe space where all University of Guelph students can seek information and support about topics related to health and well-being. Peer-to-peer education is the driving force behind all of WEC's initiatives; including drop-in peer consultations, interactive programming, and resource distribution.

For more information contact The Wellness Education Centre.

Website: https://www.uoguelph.ca/studenthealthservices/wellness Student Health Services

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WellnessUofG Wellness U of G

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Wellness_UofG Wellness_UofG

Instagram: wellness_uofg

Contact: The Wellness Education Centre

Company Name: The University of Guelph

Telephone Number: 519-824-4120 ext. 53327

Email Address: wellness@uoguelph.ca

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