You must have felt it too.
Your shoulders will drop a few notches after a walk in the woods. My heart stopped beating. Your thoughts flowed a little more calmly.
It just made it easier to relax. The world seemed a little brighter.
You are not alone in this experience. Some call it forest therapy.
I need it.
Young people struggle with anxiety and depression
Unfortunately, depression is a common phenomenon. So is anxiety. In Norway, about 1 in 10 women experience anxiety or depression during her year. Often these two obstacles for her occur simultaneously. In 2020, worldwide he had 264 million people suffering from depression.
A new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) found that the number of young people and adolescents with depression and anxiety in Norway has doubled in the age of smartphones and social media. Her 44% of her teenage girls in Norway are currently suffering from stress and heavy thoughts.
Everything is hard and difficult. What can I do to help?
Associate Professor Simone Grassini wanted to find out how a simple walk in the woods could help with anxiety and depression. He collected all the research that researchers around the world have done in the last decade on this topic.
Then he started sorting.
Forest therapy is not yet fully developed
Grassini selected all studies that included a group in which researchers took walks in the woods and a control group in which they did not. .
Six studies went through the eye of a needle.
Using figures, numbers, and columns, research all tells us the same thing.
A walk in the woods can actually help with anxiety and depression.
“These walks are an effective and easy way to deal with problems that many people struggle with,” says Grassini, a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology at the University of Stavanger. He was a researcher at his NTNU when the research was done.
Then you may be wondering…
Is it the exercise itself that releases our mental knots? Or is it nature with the pine silence and rustling? Would just sitting on a stump work the same? Or is it a combination of exercise and nature that does tricks? Are short outings enough or do you need regular forest trips?
The short answer is that it’s not easy to say, at least from a scientific point of view.
“Nobody has systematically analyzed this activity,” says Grassini.
But there are some puzzle pieces.
less activity in the fear center
Laboratory studies have shown that even brief exposure to images and videos of nature alters brain activity associated with relaxation and well-being.
Other studies have shown that exercise itself has a positive effect on well-being.
Studies conducted outdoors have shown that even brief exposure to a forest environment reduces activity in the fear center of the brain. “
Simone Grassini, Associate Professor, University of Stavanger
However, there is still no scientifically proven method for how forest therapy should be practiced. Is one walk a week enough or do I have to walk four times? Is 30 minutes enough or do I have to go for two hours?
healing power of nature
The healing power of nature has not been analyzed in a scientific way, but it has been well thought of by many philosophers.
Solveig Bøe, professor of philosophy at NTNU, said, “From a philosophical point of view, the results of research on the impact of being in nature on us are not surprising.
She points to the fundamental fact that humans are also part of nature.
“If you go back far enough in the history of biological evolution, we are related to everything that is and has been alive. It has a meaning. This meaning resonates with us,” Bøe said. says.
She believes this explains why being in nature feels meaningful. increase.
“Being in a green space surrounded by the chirping of birds, the sound of running water, the smell of plants, we understand that we are part of something bigger. It helps you forget yourself for a while,” says Bøe.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Simone Grassini (2022) A systematic review and meta-analysis of nature walks as an intervention for anxiety and depression. Journal of Clinical MedicineDOI: 10.3390/jcm11061731
Grassini, S., Revonsuo, A., Castellotti, S., Petrizzo, I., Benedetti, V., & Koivisto, M. (2019). and low cognitive load. Journal of Environmental Psychologyhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.01.007
Grassini, S., Segurini, GV, and Koivisto, M. (2022). Watching Nature Videos Promotes Physiological Recovery: Evidence from Alpha Wave Modulation in Electroencephalography. the forefront of psychologyhttps://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.87114
Sudimac, S., Sale, V. & Kühn, S. How nature nurtures: An hour’s walk in nature reduces amygdala activity. mole psychiatry (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-022-01720-6
Klaperski, S., Koch, E., Hewel, D., Schempp, A., and Müller, J. (2019). Optimizing the Mental Health Benefits of Exercise: Effects of the Exercise Environment on Acute Stress Levels and Health Status. mental health and preventionDOI: 10.1016/j.mhp.2019.200173
Hammoud, R., Tognin, S., Burgess, L. et al. Momentary ecological assessments using smartphones reveal mental health benefits of wild birds. science officer https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-20207-6