Take a Nature Break

by Natalee Fischer ’23

So let’s get real for a second…how have you been feeling lately? Fatigued?… Sluggish?… Stressed? 

Going from seeing our friends and teachers every day to being isolated at home staring at a computer screen during distance learning can create or add to feelings of stress and anxiety. As silly as it may sound, being outside may be the perfect cure for those problems. Many of us are probably struggling during this difficult time with feelings of loneliness, stress, and maybe even a little bit of depression. There may be a solution that is easier than we think. A recent study in Science Daily (April 2019) showed that spending 20 minutes a day in nature can help significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Don’t have 20 minutes? Benefits were observed from nature breaks of as little as 10 minutes, three times per week. 

Working nonstop without any breaks can actually cause a lot of stress and chronic exhaustion. The website for the American Institutes of Stress states that people need time in a natural environment to improve physical, emotional and mental health. Nature excursions can actually help alleviate feelings of time pressure and mental stress. The American Heart Association website states that there are undeniable benefits to mental health from spending time in nature like improved memory and lower stress levels. 

So here are some ideas: consider taking activities you would normally do inside and move them outside, like working out or doing yoga. Even taking 5 minutes during our 10 minute passing period to just get a breath of fresh air can leave us feeling refreshed before our next class. On a nice day, find a spot outside to do homework or take your lunch break. If you are still feeling stressed or anxious, try going for a longer hike or bike ride on the weekend. The sounds of nature are a perfect way to distract our minds and have been shown to calm nerves. 

It might be difficult to take a nature break when it’s cold and rainy outside, so instead take a virtual nature break. Explore.org features webcams from around the world that we can use to watch, learn, and listen to nature and animals in their natural habitats. No matter what your interest, there is a webcam for you. So whether you like beautiful multicolored fish, waves crashing on the beach, fluffy baby birds, or African elephants, a webcam might provide the break you need to relieve some of that school stress when you can’t take a break outside.