Anxiety and depression are fought with a walk in the woods

EGI – After a walk in the woods, the shoulders sag, the heart stops pounding, thoughts flow a little calmer. This was revealed by new research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) just published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. Led by Professor Simone Grassini, together with his team, the research has collected all the studies on this topic in the last ten years.

Research shows that In the age of smartphones and social media, the number of teenagers and young adults in Norway with depression and anxiety has doubled. 44% of teenage girls in Norway now struggle with stress and heavy thoughts. Depression is unfortunately a common phenomenon, as is anxiety. In Norway, around one in ten people will experience anxiety or depression over the course of a year. Often these two disorders occur together.

Worldwide, 264 million people suffered from depression in 2020. Professor Simone Grassini selected studies in which researchers included a group who took walks in the woods and a control group who did not take walks in the woods. Everyone in both groups struggled with anxiety and depression. Six studies were selected and they all say the same thing: a walk in the woods is effective against anxiety and depression.

“These walks are an effective and simple method for something a lot of people struggle with,” says Grassini, now a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology at the University of Stavanger. When the study was conducted, he was a research scientist at NTNU. Laboratory studies show that even brief exposures to nature images and videos lead to a change in brain activity related to relaxation and well-being. More research showing that exercise itself has a positive effect on the experience of well-being. “Studies conducted outdoors have shown that even brief exposure to a forest environment leads to less activity in the fear center of the brain,” says Grassini.

Although the healing power of nature has not been analyzed by scientific methods, it is something that many philosophers have thought about a lot. Solveig Be, professor of philosophy at NTNU points out the fundamental fact that human beings are also part of nature. “If we go back far enough in our biological evolutionary history, we are related to everything that lives and has lived. A philosopher I have worked with for a while, Merleau-Ponty, argues that wherever there is life in nature, there is meaning This meaning resonates with us,” says Be. This explains, according to the philosopher, why being in nature seems meaningful. It can help us realize that there is something more important than what we go around pondering in our hearts. “Out in the green spaces, surrounded by birdsong, the sound of flowing water, the smell of greenery, we understand that we are part of something bigger. It can do us good and help us forget ourselves for a while” Be concludes.

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Anxiety and depression are fought with a walk in the woods

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