Depression, anxiety, and PTSD get reduced by spending time in nature
(NaturalHealth365) Everyone knows how good it feels to be in a natural environment. Now scientific research is proving the strong relationship between spending (more) time in nature and feeling less depression and anxiety. This is particularly important for those suffering with PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.
A study by the Institute for European environmental Policy (IEEP) found that persons living close to natural spaces were less likely to suffer from depression and obesity. They were also more naturally active, bringing them the additional mood-boosting brain and body chemistry of exercise.
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This study found persons who lived close to nature had 16 percent lower death rates than those living in urban areas. This was true even for persons living in socially and financially deprived areas. Pregnant women living near green spaces tended to show higher birth weights while enjoying lower blood pressure throughout their pregnancies.
U.S. research has found patients in hospitals with tree views from their room windows were released a day sooner than those without. A 2015 study found an extra 10 trees on a city block in Toronto provided health benefits equaling $10,000 per year in extra annual income. These individuals also tested as seven years younger biologically.
Persons who have an active connection with nature also report fewer allergy issues, higher self-esteem, better mental health and higher overall levels of wellbeing. Researchers have concluded that the only way individuals and communities can truly thrive is by cultivating an ongoing connection with nature.
Lack of connection to nature contributes to anxiety, depression and severe mental illness
An Illinois study showed proximity to nature was associated with a lower murder rate in the neighborhood. A University of Sussex study found that even just the sounds of nature can enhance relaxation and increase wellness.
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By contrast, a lack of connection to this natural depression treatment has been associated with some of the most severe forms of mental illness. In addition to anxiety and depression, PTSD, psychosis and schizophrenia have been reported. Episodes of psychosis, a total break from reality characterized by paranoia and hearing voices, is up to 40 percent higher in urban areas, according to King’s College London and Duke University researchers.
Not surprisingly, rates were even more pronounced in high-risk, high-crime areas. Persons with these issues tend to be at a higher risk for developing long-term mental illnesses. They are also more prone to suicidal thoughts and ending their life too soon.
Rates of children playing outside daily down at least 44 percent
A lack of available parks and green spaces in many cities could be partly to blame for these conditions. Technology also makes young people less apt to play outside; many choose instead to stay inside to use a computer, smart device or video game console.
Think about this startling statistic: About 70 percent of U.S. mothers recall playing outside nearly every day when they were children. However, just 26 percent of their children do the same, these mothers report. Isn’t it incredible how much things have changed – in just one generation!
Making a concerted effort to get everyone outdoors more often could do wonders for your family’s health and wellbeing. Walking in a nearby park, planting extra greenery in your yard and cultivating house plants can all make a positive difference.
For better health and a more fulfilling life, do all you can to increase your exposure to the great outdoors. Your body (and mind) will thank you for the effort.
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