How Spending Time in the Great Smoky Mountains Reduces Stress

November 01, 2019

If you’ve ever been stressed out and find that spending time out in nature makes you feel better, it’s not just in your head! Psychologists have done a study to see the effects of spending time in nature and how it affects stress. That means if you’re feeling stressed, it’s time to plan a trip to the Smoky Mountains! We want to share some of the best places to enjoy nature in the Smokies! Find out more about how spending time in the Great Smoky Mountains will reduce your stress:

Study Shows Nature Reduces Stress

wildflowers on porters creekNature is a place where many people go to escape from the stresses of life. According to an article from Frontiers in Psychology, spending at least 20 minutes out in nature a day can significantly reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Before the study was conducted, scientists weren’t sure how much time and how often people should be out in nature.

During the study, participants were asked to spend 10 minutes or more outdoors at least three times a week. They should go out when it is still daylight, avoid aerobic exercise, and stay away from social media. Their cortisol levels were tested for 8 weeks, and the results were in: spending anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes outside, whether you’re sitting or walking, significantly reduced cortisol in these study participants.

Best Places in the Great Smoky Mountains to Destress

The Great Smoky Mountains are the perfect place to go when you need to destress. We want to share some of our favorite places that are great for getting away, from hiking trails to quiet spots.

Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area

smoky mountain creekGet out in nature for the day and have a picnic with your loved ones! At the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, there are multiple picnic tables beside the creek, providing a beautiful view in a natural setting. There are also a few walking trails in this area, so after you eat, you can explore!

Elkmont Nature Trail

One of the best places to walk out in the Great Smoky Mountains is the Elkmont Nature Trail. This is a trail with a roundtrip length of 0.8 miles, making it perfect for anyone. During spring, you’ll see all kinds of wildflowers, while in the fall, you’ll have gorgeous views of the fall foliage. Walk past creeks, see wildlife, and just enjoy being outdoors!

Gatlinburg Trail

The Bridge along the Gatlinburg TrailIf you’re looking for a longer hike, the Gatlinburg Trail is perfect for you! The roundtrip length is 3.8 miles, and it is considered easy. A good portion of the hike runs along the Little Pigeon River, and you’ll even cross it on a footbridge. You’ll see historic buildings, wildflowers in the warmer months, and bright colors in the fall. You might even see wildlife along your hike!

Indian Creek and Tom Branch Falls

Want to see waterfalls as a way to destress? Hike the 1.6 roundtrip trail to Indian Creek and Tom Branch Falls. You’ll get to see two waterfalls in one trip! You’ll come to Tom Branch Falls first, and it stands 80 feet tall and trickles down into the creek. Then you’ll come to Indian Creek Falls, which is 45 feet tall with an impressive amount of water gushing over the rocks.

The Great Smoky Mountains are the perfect place to spend time outdoors to reduce stress. If you want to know where else you should go in the Great Smoky Mountains, check out these top 5 places to visit.