Need a breath of fresh air? We all do. Scientists have long known that exposure to nature boosts well-being and reduces stress, but why?
A recent study at Stanford University hypothesized that nature might have something to do with rumination - or that swirl of obsessive and self-referential thoughts to which we all find our mind turning from time to time.
Why aren’t I good enough?
I can’t believe I screwed that up!
What are they thinking about me?
If this kind of thought becomes habitual, it can lead to depression.
To test their theory, researchers selected 38 participants from urban areas, reasoning that city-dwellers might naturally have higher levels of rumination. After a few tests to level-set, each participant took a 90 minute walk. Half strolled through nature while the other half stretched their legs along a busy street.
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It turns out, walking in nature has a restorative effect on the mind.
So can you just go for a stroll on your local strip of grass a la Richard Gere in Pretty Woman? Not so fast. The key characteristics of a restorative walk are:
- a sense of belonging
- a soft fascination with your environment
- the sense of being away
So seek a place where you don’t feel lost, but also don’t feel tethered to the hustle and bustle of the city. And look around - it’s a beautiful world!