The Link Between Kayaking and Improved Mental Health
Ever noticed how you often feel more focused, relaxed, and calm after a kayaking trip or spending time in nature? Well, researchers claim that interacting with nature has benefits to our mental health – from reducing anxiety, managing depression, improving mood, and even increasing our cognitive abilities.
"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside…”
– Anne Frank
5 Mental Health Benefits of Interacting with Nature
Outdoor activities such as kayaking are often associated with improved physical health – including improving vision and helping with weight loss. Interestingly, there’s more to mother nature’s wellness remedy than breaking a sweat and shedding some weight.
Scientists are uncovering a link between strong environmental connections and improved mental health. As shown in the studies below, that weekend kayaking trip you take with your family could be significantly improving your general wellbeing.
- Helps with Depression
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability in the world, affecting over 264 million people. Luckily, interacting with nature can help manage the symptoms of this mental health disorder.
Results from a study appearing in the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that respondents who indulged in walks in natural green space had increased mood and memory span in comparison to their counterparts in an urban setting.
Indulging in nature appears to promote positive thinking, encourage resilience, and improves coping mechanisms. Such an approach to life facilitates emotional balance and heals the mind.
“A walk in nature walks the soul back home”
– Mary Davis
- Boosts Self-Esteem and Mood
Do you have a positive outlook on life and yourself? Let’s face it: We all have low moments in our lives where we doubt our abilities and we don’t have confidence in ourselves. If this sounds like you, consider exercising in nature to boost your moods and empower you to be the champion you’re meant to be!
According to a 2010 multi-analysis study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, green exercise significantly improves self-esteem and mood – especially in men and women with mental illness. These findings were supported by another study appearing in the Perspectives in Public Health. The latter suggested that combining nature, social components and exercise may help promote mental health in future mental healthcare programs.
Staying close to nature also teaches us to appreciate or feel more grateful for what we have and what mother nature provides to us. This often fosters an urge to protect the environment.
- Improved Problem-Solving Skills and Creativity
Looking to clear out your mind and get over a creative block? Most of us experience a slump at one point in our productive lives. When this is the case, we inherently opt for a stroll in nature to rekindle our creative sparks and process information better.
According to researchers, a natural environment helps improve our cognitive ability and working memory span. A strong relationship with nature provides clarity and awakens your senses. While kayaking, you’re more mindful of what you feel, what you smell, what you hear, and what you see. This all contributes to your creativity and problem-solving skills.
- Reduces Anxiety and Stress
Feeling stressed or anxious? Most of us suffer from anxiety and stress for different reasons. Maybe it’s the pressure from work, finances, emotional trauma, personal relationships, or school. Whatever the cause, actively participating in physical outdoor activities could make things a lot easier.
Several studies suggest that natural environments help trigger several biological processes that reduce stress and anxiety. In one study, the researchers found that working out in a natural setting yielded better results in anxiety reduction. Similarly, another study hypothesized that nature boosts dopamine levels, boosts endorphin levels, and reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) – hence promoting calm and happiness.
- Heightened Concentration and Better Performance
Whether you are a student or a worker in a high-pressure environment, research evidence indicates that outdoor activities such as kayaking or nature walks could help build attention and focus. A strong connection to nature leads to a reduced chance of developing ADHD, heightened concentration, and better performances.
Grab a Kayak and Experience the Great Outdoors!
In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Nature spontaneously keeps us well. Do not resist her!” Scientific research shows that spending a few hours enjoying the beauty of nature has tremendous effects on our mental health and general wellbeing.
But don’t just interact with nature aimlessly, consider engaging activities such as kayaking. Paddling is a unique way to immerse yourself in nature – it offers an intimate view, helps you appreciate the outdoors, and is great exercise.
Whether you’re looking for a tranquil experience in calm water or kayak fishing with your family, a world of kayaking awaits. Grab your kayaking gear and bask in the invigorating power of nature as you take to the waters.