Are you feeling stressed, anxious or depressed?
It is a familiar feeling among us with what is going on in the world today. It’s time to get back to nature!
Ecotherapy – a new scientific field has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression levels in people.
In a 2015 study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people after they walked for 90 minutes in either a natural or city setting. The study found that those people who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is a region in the brain that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.
"When people are depressed or under high levels of stress, this part of the brain malfunctions and people experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts," says Dr Strauss.
Looking at it further, it appears that spending time in natural spaces offers other therapeutic benefits. Calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body's fight-or-flight response.
The visual aspects of nature can also have a soothing effect, according to Dr Strauss. "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."
We challenge all of you to find your 30 minutes of daily exercise this month outdoors and as close to nature as you can get.