175-192 Enjoy Nature

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Based on research by Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., Hahn, K. S., et al. (2015). Written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.

Did you know taking a stroll through the park can improve mental health?

According to a new study, spending time in nature soothes the mind and subsequently changes the way our brains work. Psychology researchers examined the effect a 90-minute walk might have on an individual’s tendency to worry. Their study at Stanford University consisted of 38 healthy adults completing a questionnaire to evaluate their typical level of worrying. The researchers also assessed brain activity in each volunteer’s subgenual prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that has been strongly associated with worry. The participants were randomly divided into two groups; those who took a walk through a quiet park, and those who walked next to a loud and hectic highway. Following their stroll, the participants repeated the questionnaire and brain assessment. Results revealed the walk next to the highway did not soothe people’s mind as their brain activity was still high and their worry scores were unchanged. However, those who partook in the nature stroll exhibited reduced activity in their subgenual prefrontal cortex and reported less worrying.

Whenever you have the chance, spend some time outside and enjoy nature! It may bring you peace of mind and reduce your worry.

References:

Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., Hahn, K. S., Daily, G. C., & Gross, J. J. (2015). Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(28), 8567-8572.

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