While living in a city has its own perks, it has been suggested that there is a strong link between urbanization and mental illness. A recent study performed by a team at Stanford University has shown that a short 90 minute nature walk decreases rumination – dwelling on negative thoughts.
The study focused on two groups of healthy individuals. Before and after the actual research, the team conducted questionnaires and measured activity in the prefrontal cortex of all participants. One group walked for 90 minutes in a natural setting while the other took a stroll in an urban setting.
Although more research should be done on this matter in the future, the first results showed that nature really can reduce rumination, which is the first indication of depression. This means that a brief nature experience could potentially save us from mental illnesses and it also highlights the importance of city parks.
Some cities and nations are already incorporating the benefits of nature into urban design, making sure that buildings, especially schools, have public access to greenspace that may influence stress, mental health, and even cognitive functioning.
Next time you feel down, make sure you go to the nearest green spot to stretch both your legs and your mind.