Studies show nature is excellent for mental health.
There's just something about sitting on a tailgate and watching the sun sink behind the vast waving wheat fields of the plains, or taking in a big breath of fresh mountain air from the rocky face of a 14er. To be in nature is in our nature. After all, only about 5,000 of the 300,000 years we've known homo sapiens to exist have been spent indoors, and that's if you consider ancient structures to be really "indoors." To put that in perspective, that's just under two percent of our time on earth, so it's probably not much of a surprise that getting outside satisfies something deep within. And now science is backing it up.
According to a study performed in the late 1990s by Frances Kuo, founder of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, something as simple as having a view of trees, grass, and flowers significantly improves your ability to perform simple tasks and deal with emotionally complex life events.
Her sampling consisted of a group of women who lived in the Robert Taylor Homes housing project on the South Side of Chicago. Some had views of nature, while others had views of concrete buildings and parking lots.
When asked about her results, Kuo argued that looking at trees "refreshes the ability to concentrate." She also said that her subjects were able to better deal with the challenges they faced and that there's something "restorative" about the view of nature.
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Fast-forward to 2008. Another study led by Marc Berman at the University of Michigan sampled two groups of undergraduate students. One group spent time walking around the bustling streets of downtown Ann Arbor, and the other spent time lazily strolling the university's arboretum. When they returned, they were subjected to a series of psychological evaluations, and as it turns out, people who spent time in the arboretum scored much higher in terms of mood, attention, and working memory.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps Transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were on to something back in the 1840s?
Luckily, Colorado is a great place to see for yourself! So if you need refreshment, get out there! Hike, fish, ski, climb, etc.! Or, if you've got kids, send them to summer camp
, take them to explore the city's parks
, or take a day to visit the Botanic Gardens
! It could be just the boost you need.