If you need to lower your stress, chase away negative thoughts, and hit reset on your mood, there is no better natural way to do it than to get out into nature and get active. The mounting evidence that nature and mood are related is so strong that there is even a new school of research called Ecopsychology to study the effects of nature on our mental health.

Take a long nature walk and drink matcha tea, for an extra well-being boost.

While it's not clear why spending time outside works, the researchers found that among those subjects who spent time outside (even if it was in an urban setting) experienced lower activity in their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is most active during rumination, which is defined as focusing on negative thoughts or emotions.

"Natural spaces offer other therapeutic benefits," Harvard's researchers wrote. "For instance, calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol."

"Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry," noted Dr. Jason Strauss, instructor of psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance. How much nature is enough to help boost brain chemistry? Strauss suggested: "Anything from 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week," or more if you can make it to the woods for a weekend of hiking or biking, he added. "The point is to make your interactions a part of your normal lifestyle."

A study done by the University of Exeter and published in the journal Nature suggested that 120 minutes a week spent in nature is associated with feelings of wellbeing. The authors note that "a growing body of epidemiological evidence indicates that greater exposure to, or ‘contact with’, natural environments (such as parks, woodlands, and beaches) is associated with better health and well-being, at least among populations in high income, largely urbanized, societies.”

The study looked at the mental health and outdoor habits of 20,000 people and found that those who spent at least two hours a week in green spaces (such as parks and other natural environments, either all at once or over several visits) were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t spend time outside.

So for relaxation and mental wellbeing, your new ritual to adopt this month is this: Start to plan to spend time outside in nature every day, whether it's at the park, or a local hiking trail, or a safe biking path. If you're living in the mountains, tell yourself that late spring powder is a great excuse to get out on the snow, or if you're near the shore, take a friend, the dog, or a family member and plan a long beach walk when the light is most beautiful. Get moving and get outside, either 20 to 30 minutes a day or in one long weekend nature walk.

Add matcha tea or a matcha latte to your nature walk ritual, for extra relaxation and focus.

The next way to boost mood is when you get back home, reach for a matcha tea. A study of the effects of green tea on the brain shows that compounds in green tea can help promote mental alertness, focus, relaxation, and calm. Matcha tea is frequently referred to as mood- and brain food. “Matcha tea consumption leads to a much higher intake of green tea phytochemicals compared to regular green tea,” according to the study authors. Those higher amounts of phytochemicals mean that matcha tea is potentially better than regular tea for helping your brain function calmly and steadily."

Laird Superfood's Matcha Instafuel is one we love because it’s a good source of calcium, iron, and vitamin C. This blend is combined with their Superfood Creamer containing naturally occurring MCTs from coconut oil which provides functionality to your matcha latte. Just add hot water, stir (or shake in your to-go bottle) and start your outside adventure.. Try adding Laird Superfood Matcha Instafuel to your routine of spending time in nature for a double boost of mood-enhancing morning rituals. You'll feel great all day.

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