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A growing body of research shows that time in nature — or enjoying pockets of green in urban settings — is good for our mental health. Some studies and key findings are below. Get the story, then get outside for some green time!

“Green Spaces Aren’t Just for Nature – They Boost Our Mental Health Too”

The evidence of positive effects from nature includes studies on specific psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and mood disorder. Access to nature has also been found to improve sleep and reduce stress, increase happiness and reduce negative emotions, promote positive social interactions and even help generate a sense of meaning to life. Being in green environments boosts various aspects of thinking, including attention, memory and creativity, in people both with and without depression. “The evidence is very solid,” says psychologist Marc Berman at the University of Chicago. More…

“Stanford Researchers Find Mental Health Prescription: Nature”

Two groups of participants walked for 90 minutes, one in a grassland area scattered with oak trees and shrubs, the other along a traffic-heavy four-lane roadway. Before and after, the researchers measured heart and respiration rates, performed brain scans and had participants fill out questionnaires. The researchers found little difference in physiological conditions, but marked changes in the brain. Neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a brain region active during rumination – repetitive thought focused on negative emotions – decreased among participants who walked in nature versus those who walked in an urban environment…. More…

“Science Confirms You Should Stop and Smell the Roses”

“…if people simply take time to notice the nature around them, it will increase their general happiness and well-being….” More…

“Research Suggests that Mood Disorders Can be Lifted by Spending More Time Outdoors”

Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression…. More…

“Forest Experience and Psychological Health Benefits”

Wilderness and related studies clearly demonstrate that being in a forest environment has a positive effect on people, while results from other studies indicate that contacts with forest environments provide multiple positive physiological and psychological effects on human health that included decreasing the blood pressure and heart rate and reducing anxiety and stress…. More…

“What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health?”

Every green environment improved both self-esteem and mood; the presence of water generated greater effects…. More…

“Biodiversity and Our Brains: How Ecology and Mental Health Go Together in Our Cities”

Research shows us biodiverse nature has particular positive benefit for mental well-being. Multi-sensory elements such as bird or frog sounds or wildflower smells have well-documented beneficial effects on mental restoration, calm and creativity…. More….

“Finding Beauty in the Everyday” (Berkley’s The Greater Good Magazine)

…exposure to nature can reduce blood pressure, muscle tension and stress hormones. Studies show it can also make you feel more creative and alive…. More….