A walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health, according to an interesting new study of the physical effects on the brain of visiting nature.
Most of us today live in cities and spend far less time outside in green, natural spaces than people did several generations ago.
City dwellers also have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses than people living outside urban centers, studies show.
These developments seem to be linked to some extent, according to a growing body of research. Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.
Just think about it – how does a small walk through a park or going camping feel? I bet you feel more relaxed, more centered and happier.
New research is proving that getting out of the city and going into nature is wonderful for your mental and physical well-being.
Being In Nature Changes Your Brain And Positively Impacts Your Health
A research study by Gregory Bratman from Stanford asked individuals to invest 50 minutes walking in natural or city settings and filling out a psychological assessment before and after the walk. The volunteers that walked through the green parts of the school revealed improved cognitive function and state of mind compared with the volunteers who strolled near high traffic areas at the same time.
The study revealed that nature could have a positive impact on psychological well-being, however didn’t examine neurological mechanisms underlying this change, leaving room for additional research study.
Walking In Nature Favorably Affects Your Propensity to Brood
Brooding is a state you get into when you constantly stress and worry about everyday things in your life. This is not only unhelpful or unhealthy but can be dangerous to your total mental health. Brooding can be a precursor to depression. Brooding is also frequently found amongst those residing in cities versus those living in rural locations.
Brooding is connected with increased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex. This made Bratman and his team interested and decided to determine its activity prior to and after exposure to nature in their follow-up study.
The Research study
They analyzed 38 adult city occupants.
1. Initially, they asked to finish a survey about their frequency of brooding.
2. Then they took brain scans to measure blood circulation in their subgenual prefrontal cortex.
3. They then divided them into 2 groups – like in the previous study; one group was asked to walk in green areas while the other group had to go for a walk near the hectic highway traffic. Volunteers needed to stroll alone without music on.
4. After the walk, they were asked to submit the exact same questionnaire and had their brain scanned once again.
According to the outcomes, the individuals walking by the highway had actually increased levels of blood flow to their subgenual prefrontal cortex. Their scores of broodiness didn’t alter either. The ones walking in nature showed enhancements in their mental wellness with less blood flow to their subgenual prefrontal cortex, showing a quieter brain.
These research studies strongly recommend that going out into natural surroundings could be an effective, yet basic way to right away improve your state of mind, particularly for those residing in cities.
Try It For Yourself – Go out Into Nature!
There is nothing to lose, and yet so much to win. Make sure to invest a long time in nature every day. Specifically when you’re feeling stressed out or concerned regularly, simply go and be in nature.
Choose a nice walk in a park. Sit down or set in the yard. Smell the flowers. Go outdoor camping if you can. Hug a tree. Get included with urban gardening. Get some plants to your home and your workplace. Keep nature included in your life, and you will begin to feel more dynamic and alive.