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Here's How Nature Can Enhance Your Entire Family's Mental Health

Between anxiety, depression and everything in between, mental health has been an increasingly alarming topic for families around the world. As new studies are conducted, more results have revealed how being outdoors and enjoying nature can lead to significant improvements in mental health.

Earlier this month, we reported how depression is a major factor for substance abuse when looking at pregnant women. And in the past, we also took a look at how anxiety can affect newborn children. Now, we’ll take a closer look at how being in tune with Mother Nature can result in major mental health benefits for the whole family.

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Literary icon Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” Try to take a leaf from Emerson’s book, and incorporate more outdoor activities into your weekly routine. Taking a morning hike with the kids, or spending a day in the sun at the beach can certainly lead to long-lasting memories and happiness for everyone.

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A study from Engemann et al., originally from the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, has shown that children who interact with green spaces have a lowered risk of developing psychiatric disorders as they grow older. The study encompassed over 900,000 people, and researchers found that children who had the least amount of exposure to green space actually had more than a 55% risk of developing a psychiatric disorder in adolescence or adulthood.

Looks like it’s time to turn that trip to the movies into a field trip to the closest park, instead!

In fact, in a research study from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers Maas et al. found that those that enjoy time outdoors have a decreased risk for developing anxiety disorders and depression. Sure, screen time can be easy and fun, but nothing beats quality time outdoors. Try to incorporate more time spent with nature by gathering the family for a trip out on the water.

Younger children might enjoy paddle boating, while adventurous older kids will love to try stand up paddleboarding or kayaking. Summer is certainly a fun time to enjoy the sun and natural landscapes. Whether you love hiking, swimming in the ocean, or playing a local park, there’s something for everyone when you get outside and start exploring!

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