Mental Health Benefits of a Walk in Nature

The sound of twigs snapping underfoot and birds calling to each other creates a soothing experience that feels good. And that’s not all – walking in nature can actually change the brain in ways that improve cognitive functions and reduce symptoms of certain mental health issues.

This is why doctors across the country are prescribing nature walks to their patients with high blood pressure and anxiety.

Reduces Stress

Research shows that spending time in nature helps to reduce the level of stress hormone cortisol in the body. In one study, participants who walked through a forest had lower levels of cortisol than those who walked along a traffic-heavy road.

Walking in a natural environment also triggers the release of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that helps to relax the nervous system. This makes it easier to control negative emotions such as anxiety and stress.

During your next walk in the forest, try to really notice your surroundings, what you can see, hear and smell. This will help you to become fully engaged in the present moment and pause anxious thoughts. This will also help to make your walk a lot more fun!

Boosts Mood

Whether you hike up a mountain or just walk around your neighborhood or the park on your lunch break, a nature stroll can boost your mood and improve your emotional well-being. Having regular access to green spaces may even reduce your risk of developing psychiatric disorders later in life.

In addition, walking in nature triggers the production of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid or GABA, which acts as a natural stress reliever and makes you feel happier. This is because the sights, sounds, and scents of nature are very relaxing.

Moreover, hiking and other outdoor activities in nature promote creativity by increasing cognitive function and stimulating inspiration. In fact, a study showed that backpackers who spend four days in the wilderness without their electronic devices perform better on creative tests.

Reduces Psychosomatic Illnesses

As people have become increasingly urbanized and disconnected from nature, the rates of psychosomatic illnesses such as depression, anxiety and mood disorders have skyrocketed. In fact, a recent study found that those living in cities have a 20% higher risk of depression compared to those who live in rural areas.

Fortunately, walking in nature can help to alleviate these symptoms. One study found that just a 60-minute walk in a forest decreases activity in the amygdala, an area of the brain linked to stress and fear.

In addition, walking in nature can also reduce the effects of myopia (commonly known as nearsightedness), which is often caused by too much time spent in front of a screen. Whether it’s hiking up a mountain or simply spending your lunch break in a park downtown, every bit of time you spend in nature can make you happier and healthier.

Increases Life Satisfaction

A walk in nature will not only improve your mood, but it will also give you a greater sense of purpose and meaning. This is why doctors are prescribing nature walks for their patients with anxiety and depression.

Children who grow up with regular access to natural settings have a lower risk of developing psychiatric disorders as they get older, and even spending 20 minutes walking in a green space can help improve concentration, decreasing the need for ADHD medication.

When you walk in the woods, it triggers the release of GABA – Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, which reduces stress and boosts your mood. It can create a calm and quiet state for reflection, creativity or socialising. It is also beneficial to walk in nature with friends, as this increases happiness and feelings of well-being.

Reduces Mental Illness

Studies on the impact of walking in nature have shown positive results for reducing depression and anxiety. However, these are correlational and do not prove that the nature walk caused this effect.

One reason may be that the natural environment is a positive distraction. Another is that walking in nature stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows or inhibits high energy activities and is also known as the ‘Rest and Digest’ response.

Studies have also found that inhaling the aromas of trees, such as cedar or pine, can increase levels of NK cells in the body, which are immune cells that destroy tumors and viruses. This is sometimes referred to as ‘forest bathing’.

KozyK Author
      Shopping cart