When we spend time outdoors, we generally feel good. 

Whether it’s a walk through the park or laying out in the sun, taking a break with mother nature can give us the recharge we need to rock out through the rest of the day. 

But, what is really going on in the brain when we are taking that much-needed dose of natural medicine? 

Recent studies have identified what happens when we subject ourselves to the natural world. 

Using an MRI machine, researchers discovered that subjects who were exposed to nature turned their attention outward.

This means they were focused on observing the sights, sounds, and smells that were present right in front of them. In other words, being in nature promoted mindfulness.

On the other hand, triggers like artificial noises caused the brain to refocus attention inward. The inward attentional state was similar to what neuroscientists observe in cases of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. 

So being in nature can make you feel more focused and aware…how does it affect our mood?

To investigate this one we’re going take a quick mental trip to Finland; the World’s Happiest Country for three years running.

One of the secrets to Finnish happiness is they spend a lot of time outdoors. 

Makes sense in a country that’s about 70% covered with forests. 

“Nature is our secret,” says Finland Native Heli Jimenez. “We Finns like to put on a pair of rubber boots, head to the woods to slow down, and calm our mind.”

And the science backs her up. Spending just 5 minutes in nature has a significant positive impact on our mood and mindset. 

Increased focus, a state of awareness, and a boosted mood; all from a simple reconnection with nature.