By Andrea Scharlatt

As a Minnesotan, you probably already have some connection to the outdoors. It is hard to live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and not have a favorite outdoor destination. That said, it is far too easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget about the importance of connecting with something greater than ourselves. With more and more of the world’s population living in urban settings, it is important for people to find time to connect with nature when and where they can. One study showed that people who live in urban areas actually have a 20% higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder and a 40% greater risk of developing a mood disorder when compared to individuals living in rural areas.

Being in nature has been shown to reduce feelings of anger, fear, and stress while increasing pleasant feelings in the body. Being in nature may not only makes you feel better emotionally, but in can also improve your physical wellbeing by reducing stress, blood pressure, heart rate, and tension. One study even connects nature to lower mortality rates!

If getting up North, gardening, or finding time to walk around a lake is too difficult with your busy schedule, know that even small doses of nature can help. Studies have shown that having a plant in a room can help improve mood, and many plants also improve indoor air quality! So, next time you have some free time, consider taking a walk in an area with tree cover, or visiting a local park. Even taking some breaths of fresh air and stopping to let the sun shine on your face while walking between your office and your car will help.

Remember, better mental and physical health can be achieved through small daily steps to improve quality of life and moment to moment experiences. So take advantage of one of the best parts of Minnesota, and connect with some of the amazing nature that it has to offer!