New research from the Netherlands shows that people who live near a park or wooded area experience less depression and anxiety, and a study from the UK found that a walk in the country reduces depression in 71 percent of participants. Scientists have also known that sunlight can ease depression -- especially SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, in winter. Secunda and Allen say that there are many reasons nature is so effective in lifting people's spirits.
People who live close to nature also have a much higher chance of being active outside, moving around and exercising. Think about it -- would you rather be running on a tree-lined trail with birds singing overhead or pound pavement next to cars or run on a treadmill going nowhere? Secunda and Allen add, "We all know how moving our bodies -- exercising -- is one of the most potent tools for combating depression."
Going outside is the first step in connecting with nature, but your intent will significantly enhance nature's positive effect on your mental health. Here are a few techniques from Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys to Healthier, Happier You.
Go to a river or stream and breath in the sacred sound of running water. This simple act helps to make your spirit beautiful. Just think of your plants at home -- when they get watered they look beautiful.
If you live on the coast, a good technique for washing away loneliness, depression or anger is to go to the ocean and breathe in the beautiful sound. Then as you breathe out, visualize your exhale letting your problems go.
Sit on the earth and feel the sky above you and imagine the light of the sun coming in through the top of your head. This helps take away anger and loneliness by helping you feel connected to something grand. It helps you feel a part of life all around you.
A deceptively simple tool is to just go out with friends and family to a beautiful place in nature and talk, laugh or even discuss problems.
Go for a walk, run or hike in a natural setting. While you are out in nature, look around at the world going on around you. Forge a connection to the trees and plants and animals around you as you move through this setting whose elements are almost eternal. This can take your focus off your own challenges and help you see that there is a whole world that is enduring and wondrous. It helps us see that, ultimately, even with life's challenges we are part of this amazing circle of life.
One way to draw energy from the earth when you feel depleted is to walk outdoors with intent, and with each step you take, try to visualize Mother Earth's power rising into your body. The power of Mother Earth is love. Imagine love coming into your body, making your body strong. Love is a tangible power and emotion that many indigenous cultures consciously work with, and it can help all of us living in the modern world.
Visit www.fitsoul-fitbody.com for more information.
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