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Reasons backed by scientific research to spend time in nature
Evidence that spending time in nature can do wonders for your mental health
Proof that an hour spent in nature can help the mind cope with stress
We are sure you have often been told to take a walk in the park to deal with stress. It almost sounds like a cliche. We can understand how you believe the stress won’t go away unless the external factors that are upsetting your mind subside, such as waiting on the outcome of a job interview, or the stress resulting from a tight financial situation or the loss of a loved one. However, findings from a new study by the Lise Meitner Group for Environmental Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, published in Molecular Psychiatry, suggest a one-hour walk in nature has been discovered to reduce primary stress in the brain, which is significantly helpful for mental health.
Living in a metropolitan area is a well-known risk factor for getting a mental disease, while being close to nature is mostly helpful for psychological health and the brain. Studies have indicated that persons who reside in rural settings have lower levels of amygdala(this part of the brain is responsible for memory, emotional responses and decision-making) activation in response to stress than people who live in urban areas, suggesting that exposure to nature may have positive health effects.
The Lise Meitner Group for Environmental Neuroscience used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brain activity of 63 healthy volunteers before and after they took a one-hour walk in Grunewald Forest or a shopping district with traffic in Berlin (fMRI). The study found that after the stroll in nature, activation in the amygdala decreased, suggesting that time spent in nature has a positive effect on the brain’s stress centres. Scientists demonstrate that even a short exposure to nature, such as a stroll of an hour, might have a beneficial effect on stress-processing brain regions. This helps us comprehend the ways in which our everyday surroundings have an impact on our cognitive and emotional well-being.
Doing things like taking a stroll in the woods can help protect you from developing mental health issues and mitigate the negative effects of urban living. Considering the current rate of urbanisation, these findings may prompt planners to prioritise the development of easily accessible green spaces and the modification of urban surroundings in ways that are favourable to the mental health of city dwellers. Based on these findings we recommend you to spend an hour in parks and green spaces close to you every now and then to help your state of being.
These findings provide support for the idea that getting out into nature for a walk can have beneficial effects on areas of the brain associated with stress, suggesting that this practice may serve as a protective measure against both mental stress, and consequently other common diseases.