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So, Can Nature Actually Help Reduce My Anxiety?

I work with many clients who are stressed and overwhelmed related to their jobs. My job as their clinical therapist is to better understand why the client is anxious at their job and then possible coping strategies to better manage their anxiety at work. One thing I often recommend to clients is utilizing a holistic approach in managing their anxiety, specifically using nature as a way to help reduce their anxiety. I recently read an article from Fast Company, that touched on this very topic, “How to use the benefit of nature to reduce anxiety” by author Srini Pillay. 

Pillay describes how one study found that 34% of American workers experience anxiety and feeing nervous because of stress. That statistic increases to 40% for millennials and 54% for generation Zers. With this study, only slightly more than half of those people respond to medication trials, and only 1/3 see their anxiety subside. With these statistics, it highlights that there needs to be more coping mechanisms than just medications in order to manage individual’s symptoms of anxiety. 

Nature based interventions can have a significant impact on helping individual’s mental health. Just spending two weeks of implementing regular time in nature, whether it is going to a park, lake, ocean, beach, garden, etc., can have a net positive effect on individuals. Unfortunately, not all people are able to be near nature due to their busy work life. 

Below Pillay describes reasons onto why nature-based intervention approaches can help reduce the anxiety at work and also possible substitutions for those that don’t work near beautiful nature.

  • Visualization. Not all individuals are able to take a vacation to a tropical location spontaneously. Pillay encourages for those people to utilize a visualization technique where they are visualizing themselves somewhere in nature such as on a beach, a forest, lake, a sunset, wherever it is that brings you a sense of calmness. Visualizing nature can have a similar impact on the brain as it does if you were actually outside in nature. Of course, it is not quite the same thing to visualize being on a beach, but it can be a useful temporary substitute. 
  • Plants/Fish. It is also helpful to bring nature inside of your workplace. Maybe this means getting an office pet fish or buying a simple plant for the office as both of those methods can decrease anxiety. Ever wonder why so many doctor offices have an aquarium? Many people get anxious while attending their annual doctor visits, so observing the fish in the aquariums can reduce their anxiety. If you can’t buy a fish or plant for the office, maybe re-position your desk near the window so you can at least see some nature outside your office window. 
  • Relax time. When your phone is on low battery, you charge it. Use that same idea for your mind and body. If you are feeling low energy, recharge yourself by taking a nice walk outside during your lunch break. Studies have reported that outdoor exercise also known as “ecotherapy or green exercise” can also reduce anxiety. It is encouraged to also take a break from your phone while implementing outdoor exercise, to truly allow your brain to relax and be mindful of the nature around you. While taking the 20-minute walk may not take away the stressful work project you may have, it will certainly help reduce some the anxiety you may be facing that day at work.  

If you are currently experiencing anxiety while at work, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment. 

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