The Healing Power of Nature for the Introverted Mind

Throughout the centuries, humans have found solace in the outdoors. Nature has inspired the works of great artists and writers, such as Keats, Millais, and Turner. These artists saw in nature what we still see today—a safe haven and an opportunity to escape the chaos of the city.

But what is it about nature that makes us feel good—whether we’re Introverts or Extraverts?

Nature makes everyone happy

Scientists have been curious about the effects of nature on humans for a long time. And their studies all point to the same conclusion: nature makes everyone feel at ease.

We find a possible explanation to this phenomenon in the evolutionary theory of biologist E.O. Wilson. According to Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis, humans seek out the outdoors because it’s the place where our species could once find food, shelter and comfort. These things are essential to our survival and we are, therefore, innately drawn to them.

Recent studies go beyond this notion and reveal how nature positively affects our mood, by reducing stress levels, thus contributing to our general well-being,

But it’s especially relaxing for Introverts 

As an Introvert myself, I was always drawn to the outdoors. I turn to nature when I’m feeling stressed, frustrated or in need of some peace and quiet. Laying down on the grass, or running along the beach makes me feel connected in a way I rarely feel around other people.

I used to think I was the only one who felt this way, until I discovered this feeling is shared by most Introverts. Introverts need time to recharge and nature allows us to do so. The outdoors offers a safe space we usually can’t find when there are too many stimuli around us.

So, while spending time outside has benefits for everyone, it can be particularly valuable for solitude-loving Introverts. Here are five reasons why Introverts enjoy being around nature.

Aloneness

The Introverted brain is more responsive to dopamine—the neurotransmitter which regulates pleasure. This means we need less dopamine than Extraverts do. If we get too much of it, we can get overstimulated.

Social interactions like an office meeting or attending a party can quickly drain us. After this type of activity, we need some time alone to process our feelings.

Solitude, or aloneness, is key for Introverts, because it is how we recover from overstimulation.

Taking a walk outside is then perfect for Introverts, because it gives us the space we need to let our mind settle. After a forest bathing, we can come back to our busy lives feeling rejuvenated.

Stress Relief

Stress is a common experience for many and in extreme doses can lead to adverse consequences, both physical and mental. Learning how to deal with stress is particularly important for Introverts. Why? Because arguably, we are more likely than Extraverts to develop mental health issues. Medical professionals argue that Introverts have higher chances of developing depression and even present a heightened suicide risk. 

So, how’s nature the solution? Well, it can be the perfect medicine for when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Something as simple as a quick 15 minute-walk in the woods can reduce cortisol levels—the hormone responsible for stress.

Cognitive Performance

When it comes to cognitive performance, Introverts and Extraverts operate differently. As an Introvert myself, I can confirm that I am my most productive when I’m in a noiseless environment.

During my time as a college intern, I had a co-worker who listened to music without headphones on. Every day he sat at his desk and turned the speakers' volume up, as if noise was the most natural thing in the world.

This used to drive me crazy. Eventually, I let him know that I couldn’t work with his music as it was too distracting.

For Introverts, these stressful situations can occur at any time and nature might be the fix. Scientific studies confirm that spending time outside can enhance cognitive performance—making the outdoors the perfect retreat for an Introvert's sensitive and overactive mind. So, next time you are feeling unfocused, go for a walk!

Creativity

It’s common for Introverts to have creative outlets or hobbies such as writing, painting, music or photography. For me, I always found it easier to express myself through the written word. At school, it was terrifying to imagine the possibility of an oral exam instead of a regular written one. This creative craving might occur because of our introspection and deep-thinking abilities.

Nature’s beauty has inspired various artists, and it can boost your creativity too. Away from the chaos of the world, the natural environment is the perfect setting to let your creative mind wander.

Last resource: bring the outdoors inside!

You might be thinking: “this is all well and good, but what if I can’t (or don't want to) go outside?” Fair enough. As an Introvert, I understand how is sometimes better to stay at home reading, instead of going out.

Good news for you Introvert: you can enjoy nature's positive effects from the comfort of your home. How? I’ll give you an example.

Fall is my favorite season. I think this a common thing among Introverts. After all, the rainy weather gives us the perfect excuse to avoid social interactions. Hearing the rain dropping outside and the wind swirling is one of my favorite things. I find it incredibly peaceful. When I'm working, it helps me to feel focused and calm.

Whenever it is not raining, I can still recreate this fall setting. I simply search for playlists with rain sounds on Youtube. And you know what I found? It has the same effect, as if it was really raining.

It's not just me talking though. In a recent study, researchers used an MRI scanner to measure brain activity in people as they listened to recorded nature sounds. The results were fascinating.

In general, nature sounds revealed an increase in the parasympathetic response—that’s the one that helps the body relax and function in regular circumstances. This means that, even if you don’t want to go outside, you can listen to recorded nature sounds and create a peaceful atmosphere at home.

Have you gotten outside lately? 

Spending time around nature can help you recover from stressful everyday activities, especially if you are an Introvert. So, put your phone down for a bit and go explore the great outdoors!

Andreia Esteves

Andreia is an introvert (INFJ) who spent most of her life thinking she was the only person in the world terrified of answering the phone. She works as a freelance writer focusing on mental health, literature and travel content. When not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a book, indulging in green tea. Talk to her about untranslatable words, cupcake frosting and stationery supplies. Follow her on andreiaesteves.com.

Comments

BCfunGuy (not verified) says...

Thanks for investing the time to write this!

I'm an introvert recovering from a concussion, and the outdoors, specifically away from city sounds, have been the place where I've found the most relief from my symptoms.

Your artical was an interesting read, an opportunity to confirm my own suspicions.  Thanks again!

Andreia (not verified) says...

Thank you for your comment!

I'm glad that you found this article useful. It's impressive how nature can have such an impact on us, isn't it? 

I wish you a speedy recovery and thanks again for stopping by. 

Andreia Esteves says...

Thank you for your comment!

I'm glad that you found this article useful. It's impressive how nature can have such an impact on us, isn't it?

I wish you a speedy recovery and thanks again for stopping by. 

 

tysonmatthew (not verified) says...

Hang in there, your brain will heal over time. I just experienced another concussion myself. It will get better with time. Thanks to the author for reminding us of what we already know as introverts.

Rebecca Huffman (not verified) says...

I love reading most all these articles, helps me personally & to relate more to other types. Keep them coming!

Andreia Esteves says...

Thank you for your comment Rebecca!

Glad to hear that these articles have been useful for you. :)

mdr1374 says...

I appreciate this article as I am an introvert as well and have always been drawn to the outside.  I enjoy landscaping, walking, planting, etc.  therapeutic from a hectic day extravering myself.

Andreia Esteves says...

Glad to hear you enjoyed this article!

I can definitely relate, being in contact with nature can be quite soothing after a long day. :)

Sandi Verfurth (not verified) says...

I am an ENFP and nature soothes and recharges me at the same time.  Even a walk through a quiet neighborhood with beautiful trees and lovely landscaping has a similar effect, especially if I can hear birdsong and if the wind is slightly blowing in the trees.

Andreia Esteves says...

Thank you for your comment Sandi!

No matter our personality type, nature can definitely have a very positive impact in our lives. :)

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