How Walking in Nature Prevents Depression

Depression has become one of the perennial problems across the globe naturetoday as the level of stress is higher than what it used to be generations ago. People may be suffering from depression due to different endless reasons. But if not treated on time can lead to other serious health conditions. Therefore, it is important to figure out ways to prevent depression and lead a stress free life.

Ways to cope with depression

There are several ways to cope with depression such as seeking counseling and yoga. Nature is the best remedy for depression and hence many people begin their day with a morning walk in a good and clean park nearby. There is no denying that a walk in the park soothes your mind and changes the working method of human brains. It certainly works fruitful towards improving the mental health. Majority of people living in cities have lesser time to spare for nature like green and natural spaces. People also are more prone to depression and other mental conditions. As per studies when you take a short walk in nature, you can successfully get rid of depressive thoughts and keep your mind relaxed.

Recent study from Stanford University

When you are exposed to nature, it indeed decreases stress and enhance well being. There is evidence that strongly proves that it helps people suffering from depression recover faster. When patients spend time gazing at the images of nature, it not only helps in improving attention levels but also work performance. However, as per the recent study from Stanford University shows that people when exposed to nature can have effects on the brains. The cognitive neuroscience study with the help of questionnaires and brain scans made an attempt to determine the walking effect in different areas. One was the natural region close to the campus of Stanford University, and the other was the busy road of California.

The questionnaire was basically prepared for measuring the tendency of participants on negative thinking. This has been associated to depression to a great extent. There were brain scans performed pre and post the walking session which targeted the part of the brain called as the subgenual prefrontal cortex. It is part of the brain that is linked with thinking patterns emanating out of depression. The studies found that those who walked through nature were less affected with thoughts related to depression. However, the interesting fact was that the brain scans had shown reduced activity relating to subgenual prefrontal cortex in individuals who spend most time in nature. This offers robust outcomes which mean that the experience of nature for a short span may reduce the thought pattern that is linked with the onset or in most cases mental conditions like depression. Well, this was stated by the study researcher.

Mental health conditions and urbanization

The outcomes of the study are important as there is a strong link demonstrated between mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and urbanization. In about half of the total human population of those residing in urban areas, most people are facing stress. However, there are lesser cases in rural areas. When you wake up to the noise or a truck outside the window will seem like a minor irritation. However, it may have a negative impact on your mind especially when it joins with several other annoyances all through the day. The authors doing studies have speculated that parks and forests lead to distractions that are positive in nature when compared to the other day to day stressors. The daily stressors lead to negative thought patterns which in turn play a significant role in causing mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.

Controversy on Brain Scan

The above studies may add meaning to those who have lived for a longer duration in a city, but with some sort of controversy. The validity of brain scans can be a way to anticipate mental illness. Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can be due to various reasons. In addition to environmental causes, there are lifestyle and genetic factors as well that leads to depression. However the study authors are hoping that the outcomes of their research may shed a bit of light on the way the environments may contribute towards the prevention of such illnesses. Therefore, it is important to experience nature every now and then to stay away from stress and depression.

Based on these studies, most designers and architects today are considering green spaces quite seriously in their plans and blueprints. However, it may be tougher to accomplish as majority of the population is currently living in cities and by 2050, there will be 70 percent of the total population moving to cities. Most of the developments made by man today in the name of constructing houses are cutting down large trees and forests. They ultimately deform the landscape and make it futile.

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