Nature and mental health


  • What is nature?
  • Connecting with nature in a meaningful way
  • How can you develop your connection with nature?
  • Positive impact of nature on your mental health

Research shows that nature is crucial for our mental and physical health. Our relationship with nature significantly contributes to good mental health and well-being.

Our 2021 report 'How connecting with nature benefits our mental health' found that 70% of UK adults agreed being close to nature improves their mood, and 49% said being close to nature helps them to cope with stress.

What do we mean by ‘nature’?

Nature can mean green spaces, like parks or forests, and blue spaces, like rivers or beaches. Nature can also include the trees lining an urban street and indoor or houseplants. It has even been found that watching nature documentaries can improve your mental health.

Connecting with nature in a meaningful way

Evidence shows us that the quality of our relationship and connection with nature is vital to the mental health benefits of being in nature. A strong connection with nature would be a feeling of emotional attachment to our natural surroundings.

Improving people’s relationship with nature comes through simple yet meaningful engagement with nature. Nature is all around us. Try to notice nature wherever you are, in whatever way is meaningful for you.

Read our top tips on connecting with nature to improve your mental health.

How can you develop your connection with nature?

Any activity that involves the senses will help develop your connection with nature, or any activities that create feelings of compassion or perceiving beauty when you are in nature. This could be listening closely to birdsong or engaging your sense of touch by touching the bark of the trees on the street whilst on a walk or commuting to work.

We can also connect with nature indoors. You could be intent and present when watering or feeding your houseplants, noticing the feeling of the leaves or the smell of the soil.

Alternatively, you don’t even need to be around plants or nature to develop your connection with the natural world. You could write a poem or short story about a time you were in nature or go through any photographs you have of a picturesque landscape or nature scene.

How does connecting with nature impact mental health?

Research has shown that people with a strong connection with nature are typically happier in life, as nature can generate many happy emotions, including calmness, joy and creativity.

Connecting with nature is also associated with lower levels of poor mental health, including lower depression and anxiety. In fact, our research 'How connecting with nature benefits our mental health' found that 44% of people said being close to nature makes them less anxious or worried.

Learn more about nature and mental health

* Last updated: 6 April 2023

Was this content useful?

Related content

The Blue Prescribing Project

The purpose of this project is to improve mental health by enabling more access to those that need natural blue and green spaces using a nature-based self-management programme in London.

Read : The Blue Prescribing Project

Prevention and mental health

What prevention means, preventative measures to help yourself, and changes society can make to prevent mental health problems.
Read : Prevention and mental health
View all related content