The health benefits of nature are infinite. A recent study highlighted another positive impact of our green environment on the mental health of children.
Researchers from the University of Netherlands demonstrated that exposure to nature promotes mental health in children. Nature helps in building self-regulation. Nearly 70% of children worldwide are raised in urban environments, with a little chance of exposure to natural green areas. However, natural landscapes such as water, grass, and trees, as opposed to modern buildings and crowded streets, nurture positive mental health, especially self-regulation.
In a recent study, researchers investigated the positive effects of nature on a child’s mental well-being. The study was published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
For this study, researchers analyzed the results of 31 studies that had previously examined the effects of nature on the behavior of school children between 4-12 years of age. They found that more than half of the studies found an association between the benefits of nature on the mental development of children. Children living in a greener area had better cognitive, affective, and behavioral self-regulation.
The results of the study suggest that exposure to nature stimulates self-regulation and self-regulation is an important predictor of mental wellbeing; it helps prevent several mental health issues like depression and anxiety. It is an effective tool that can be implemented in different areas of a child’s environment like schools and residential areas. In addition, exposure to nature improves physical health (e.g., exercise) and social interactions. Further research on the effect of nature in different stages of life and other possible protective qualities of nature are worth considering.
Written by Dr.Radhika Baitari, MS
References: Weeland, J., Moens, M., Beute, F., Assink, M., Staaks, J. and Overbeek, G. (2019). A dose of nature: Two three-level meta-analyses of the beneficial effects of exposure to nature on children’s self-regulation. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 65, p.101326.
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