Stanford University Prescribes Nature for Mental Health Patients

Urbanization is the Problem

According to a recent Stamford University study, 50% of Americans now live in an “urbanized” area without access to much nature.  The researchers state that urbanization has been associated with high levels of mental illness, but the reasons are not yet known why.

walking-in-the-city

This is a concern because urbanization is on the rise. The number is expected to reach 70% by 2050! Will the effects of urbanization compound more greatly as more people begin to live on top of each other?  The potential for future damage to our society is not yet understood and efforts must be made to combat the growing mental health epidemic.

“Rumination is a pattern of thought focused on the negative of oneself”

Nature is the Solution

The researchers decided to test the effects of a 90 minute walk in nature verse a 90 minute walk through an urban area. They wanted to know if it would have an effect on repetitive negative thoughts (“Rumination”).

Their brains were scanned before and after the walks. The results showed that the participants walking in nature had positive results where the participants walking in urban areas did not.

 “We wanted to see how we regulate our emotions. The people in the experiment shifted the way in which they engage with nature. They shifted their attention away from those thoughts.”

Their researched mirrored the results of other studies that indicate as little as 90 minutes walking in nature can lower your stress level biochemically and leave you simply feeling better.

So what should you do if you are stressed, depressed, or repeatedly thinking about all the ways life has brought you down?  Turn off the TV, open the door, and go for a walk. A nice long one. No cell phones, no emails, just you and the trees.

boandbellewine_health_benefits_of_walking_barefootBetter yet, do it barefoot.

Sources:

http://college.usatoday.com/2015/07/09/study-nature-good-for-mental-health/

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/28/8567.abstract

 

 

One Response

  1. Gyver

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