The healing effects of being out in nature have been well known for many years. Taking a walk in the park, or a long hike out in the wilderness can calm you down in a matter of minutes.  But now there’s solid evidence that nature therapy can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.  Nowadays, our time spent in nature can be hard to come by. Many people live in cities where there is very little green space for people to enjoy. It’s also hard to find the time to be outside with busy schedules and indoor work and school environments.

Being outside can quell brooding thoughts

A recent study conducted by Stanford University found that nature therapy can reduce the amount of brooding thoughts we have while out in nature. These brooding thoughts or  “ruminations” as researchers called them, can be a sign of depression and other mental health struggles.

So why does being out in nature help silence our brooding thoughts? Researchers found that rumination is associated with increased activity in a specific portion of the brain known as the subgenual prefrontal cortex.

In the study, researchers had one group of volunteers stroll along the highway. They then measured blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex. Blood flow to this region of the brain was high – meaning that the brooding thoughts were still there.

They then did this same experiment in a park. The results showed low blood flow to that part of the brain meaning that those brooding thoughts were quieted during the participant’s experience in nature.

Being outside is relaxing

A recent analysis by researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School of mental health data collected from 10,000 city dwellers found less emotional distress in those who lived near a green space.

Some hospitals are even prescribing patients time in parks and other outdoor environments as part of nature therapy. Nooshin Razani, a doctor at UCSF Benioff Clients’s Hospital in Oakland, California has been training pediatricians in the local outpatient clinic to prescribe patients time in local parks.  The power of nature is profound. By just getting outside every once and awhile, we are able to remove ourselves from the hecticness of everyday life. We are transported into a peaceful, serene world where our troubles are far away.

blueFire Wilderness brings struggling teens out into nature

blueFire Wilderness, a wilderness therapy program for teens ages 11-17, utilizes nature therapy to help teens struggling with behavioral and emotional issues like depression, anxiety, and ADHD.  For more information about blueFire Wilderness, please call 1 (844) 413-1999 today.

Previous reading
Damaging to Your Teen's Future: The Risks of Teen Substance Abuse
Next reading
Promoting Exercise in Teens