Take a nature break for better health – The Oakland Press

Take a nature break for better health – The Oakland Press


Nature could be one of the keys to mental health — but what if you cannot hike or spend hours outdoors? Kristen Mastel grew up enjoying time outside, but she found that as an adult, that time decreased.

“As an academic librarian, I have similar responsibilities as faculty to publish, teach and service,” says Mastel, who works for the University of Minnesota. “However, I also am a caregiver, and I was burning the candle at both ends.”

Mastel knew that spending time in nature was a central part of who she was and essential to her well-being practice. “I began spending more time outdoors not only going for walks but just sitting to observe nature – to reconnect with nature, to reconnect with myself,” she says.

The goal is less stress

It has long been known by scientists that nature has a positive impact on the brain. Research has shown that the amygdala, the part of the brain that helps process stress, is activated more often in people who live in cities than those who live in rural areas.

But a new study at the Lise Meitner Group for Environmental Neuroscience found that nature directly touches on stress reduction. In the analysis, activity in the amygdala remained the same after participants took a one-hour walk on a busy city street, leading researchers to believe that urban exposure does not add to a person’s stress levels.