Anxiety rates around the globe increased by 25% during Covid. The United Nations has described the dramatic increase in mental health issues as a “wake-up call”.
The American Psychological Association has also called for resources to help manage the increasing number of patients seeking treatment for anxiety, depression and other mental health-related issues.
Whilst the source of anxiety for many people will lie in deep-seated emotional disturbances, research shows that something as simple as connecting with nature can help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Really? Can a walk in the park help relieve anxiety?
Walking is considered moderate exercise. And a moderate form of exercise practised for more than 10 minutes releases endorphins in the brain – feel-good neurochemicals which help to enhance mood.
But it’s not only the psychobiological impact of exercise that helps people feel better and ease the release of anxiety. Studies have shown that people living in urban areas have higher levels of anxiety than people that live in areas that give them easy access to the natural world.
What’s more, researchers have found that merely spending time in nature can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety. So you don’t even have to engage in physical activity.
The Japanese – a nation renowned for its healthy citizens living long lives – have engaged in shinrin-yoku, also known as forest bathing. Shinrin-yoku simply involves walking in a natural environment and consciously connecting with what’s around you.
Another study found that you don’t even have to head for the hills to benefit from the healing qualities of Mother Nature. Researchers found that walking in city green zones such as parks and gardens can have beneficial effects on mental health as well.
30-Minutes Waking in Nature
The length of time you need to spend in green spaces is open for debate. Benefits have been found from as little as 10 minutes to one hour. Some
mental health experts say that a 30-minute walk in nature has been shown to lower depression in 70% of patients and increase self-confidence in 90% of participants.
Scientists are still perplexed about how Mother Nature has such healing qualities but it seems to have something to do with an innate ability to destress when we come into contact with the natural world. After all, it’s not uncommon for people to go for a walk to “clear the head”.
Mental health experts have been incorporating a walk in the park into their treatment routines for patients living with anxiety and depression. A walk in the park has been shown to help alleviate symptoms associated with anxiety such as brain fog, confusion and negative self-talk.
Walk With A Friend
You will know from experience that keeping good company is good for your emotional well-being. Spending time around like-minded people is also good for boosting your self-esteem.
Walking in the park with a good friend or a loved one that listens to you can also be beneficial for people with anxiety. Sometimes, we just need to be heard, acknowledged and appreciated.
So if you are fighting anxiety and depression incorporating a walk in the park into your healing could be very beneficial.