Connection With Nature Increases Self-Esteem, New Study Suggests

First Posted: Aug 02, 2016 05:38 AM EDT

Whether or not you love the outdoors, you will have to admit that there is something magical about nature. Whether it is the stars at night, the colorful sunrise and sunset by the beach, or the majesty of the mountains -- there is something about nature that can capture certain emotions.

Nature is good for us -- that in itself is undeniable. But new research shows that seeing green spaces is more of a necessity than ever, as access to nature encourages physical activity, which in turn gives us positive health benefits. According to The Conversation, the English population with the most green space have the lowest levels of mortality because people tend to live healthier, and thus longer lives. Not only that, access to green is also good for the psychological well-being of humans as people living in urban areas with more green space have lower rates of mental health distress, leading them to be more satisfied with their lives.

It also helps humans appreciate their bodies more. In a new study published by the journal Body Image, adults who are reported to have greater exposure to natural environments scored higher on their measure of body appreciation, meaning that they have higher respect for their own bodies and that they have the willingness to reject unrealistic ideals set forth by media.

The study also found that adults who have been exposed to nature were reported to have higher self-esteem and connection to nature, which in turn gives a more positive body image. Professor Viren Swami, lead author of the study shared, "Spending time in a natural environment may help us develop a sense of ownership over our physical selves, give us a greater respect for our bodies, and a better understanding of what our bodies can do rather than what our bodies look like."

But, that's not all. Findings also showed that access to green spaces help facilitate social interactions, giving rise to neighborhood ties, thus providing extra benefits for mental health. Direct exposure to nature may heighten how individuals feel with nature and the connection is in turn associated with said positive body image, as the feeling of being part of a larger ecosystem becomes a larger issue than waistlines and fashion. In short, a certain connection to nature will shift attention away from self-interest, and to more rounded aspects of well-being, leading to more fulfilled lives.

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