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Mental Health

How Trees Can Help Reduce Your Anxiety

“Look deep into nature, and then you will undertand everything better”

Albert Einstein

Take a hike! No, literally. Whenever you are feeling stressed, go take a hike, hug a tree, go touch some grass. Just being outside and surrounded by nature has been proven to help reduce general anxiety and stress.

We as humans were designed to be outside, despite currently living in a modern and urban world. If we consider urbanization to begin with the industrial revolution, then the we have only spent less than 0.01% of our human history in modern and urban cities. This huge difference between the natural world and the urban world that we have built for ourselves is one of the contributing causes to the constant state of stress that most people feel. Whether its car horns honking, emails blowing up your inbox, or the never ending amount of text messages, sometimes life can feel suffocating.

That is where nature therapy comes in. Nature therapy is a health-promotion method that uses stimuli from natural sources to help induce a state of relaxation. n other words, using trees to help reduce your anxiety. In Japan in 1990, the first experiments on the effects of being surrounded by forestry and health were being conducted, and there has been active research into the subject ever since. Preliminary research in 1990 designed to study the effects of “Shinrin-yoku” (or “forest bathing”) was conducted, and it was found that spending time in the forest can help reduce stress levels and induce a state of relaxation. Compared to those who were observed in urban settings, those who spent time in the forest had lower blood pressure, pulse rate, and stress hormone levels. Taking a hike has also shown to help boost a weak immune system. A series of three studies by Li et al. demonstrated that walking through the forest has an immune-boosting effect.

If walking through a forest is unattainable for you, don’t worry. Recent studies have shown that urban green spaces have a positive effect on the health of those who live in the city. Walking through an urban green space is shown to have similar calming effects on the body. So whenever you’re feeling stressed, go for a walk, touch some grass, and appreciate the greenery you have, whether it’s a forest or a city green.

All the research in this article is from “Physiological Effects of Nature Therapy: A Review of the Research in Japan” by Chorong SongHarumi Ikei, and Yoshifumi Miyazaki . The article is linked here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997467/

My name is Samantha Tracey and I am an undergrad at the College of Charleston studying Psychology and Neuroscience. I love to read and write, and I love to share my ideas and what I learn with others. I love animals and the outdoors, and I love to stay active. In my spare time you can find me in one of the many coffee shops downtown, or at the beach hunting for sand dollars.
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