Staying in nature can improve mood and reduce anxiety

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In a new study from the University of York, researchers found outdoor nature-based activities are effective for improving mental health in adults, including those with pre-existing mental health problems.

They showed that taking part in outdoor, nature-based activities led to improved mood, less anxiety, and positive emotions.

They found activities lasting for 20 to 90 minutes, sustained over the course of 8 to 12 weeks, have the most positive outcomes for improving mood and reducing anxiety.

Gardening and exercise were among the activities linked to mental health benefits. Engaging in conservation activities was also reported to make people feel better, as did ‘forest bathing’ (stopping in a forest to take in the atmosphere).

In the study, the team screened 14,321 NBI records and analyzed 50 studies.

They suggest that nature-based interventions (NBIs) support people to engage with nature in a structured way to improve mental health.

The findings reinforce the growing evidence that doing things in nature is associated with large gains in mental health.

The paper argues there is a need for substantial, sustained investment in the community and place-based solutions such as nature-based interventions, which are likely to play important role in addressing a post-pandemic surge in demand for mental health support.

If you care about anxiety, please read studies about this single brain region links depression, anxiety, and heart disease and findings of depression, but not anxiety, is linked to inflammation.

For more information about anxiety and your health, please see recent studies about a new treatment for depression, anxiety and results showing a major cause of social anxiety disorder.

The study is published in SSM – Population Health. One author of the study is Dr. Peter Coventry.

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