When’s the last time you called your mother? And, no, I don’t mean the person who gave birth to you. In this case, I mean mother nature. It can be hard to schedule some time outside right now, considering the pandemic, especially for people living in apartments without yards or balconies. But, it just might be worth the effort because the payoff is massive. Below, find out precisely how nature alleviates depression.
When Depression Brings You Down
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder or clinical depression, almost everyone has felt down in the dumps for a while. For some of us, winter descends, and depression settles in until the sunnier months return. Others may be suffering from, well, let’s call it 2020-itis. The social isolation, pandemic-related anxiety, financial concerns, and grief of the last year weren’t exactly easy on anyone’s mental health. At the very least, you can take some comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.
One of the problems with depression—aside from the obvious low mood—is that many people don’t want to do anything, including things that used to bring them joy. There’s a name for this humdrum feeling, and it’s anhedonia, meaning a loss of interest or pleasure. Doing nothing rarely solves the issue, though; typically, it just makes the situation worse. Of course, you should be gentle with yourself if you’re not as productive as you usually are. But resisting the urge to stay in bed all day is crucial to your mental health.
Needing Inner Peace? Head Out of Doors
Sure, if you’re feeling down, your natural inclination might be to watch mindless television, read funny memes, and get a full night of fourteen hours’ sleep. But that’s not actually what the experts recommend as most effective. What do the experts recommend? Going outside.
The fact is that nature alleviates depression for a variety of reasons. First of all, the fresh air, new scenery, and sound of your boots crushing autumn leaves or birds chirping help you access your mindful side. Mindfulness can help disconnect you from your anhedonia, giving you a break from what’s bothering you.
Even science backs up the fact that nature alleviates depression. One study showed that going for a stroll in nature decreased anxiety and increased positive mood. Plus, going on a mini-adventure can boost your sense of resourcefulness and help restore faith in your problem-solving ability, and therefore, boost your confidence. Going outside may also lower your blood pressure and cortisol (read: stress hormone) levels, meaning it’s good for your physical health and also your mental health.
(Roll over to Ride a Bicycle for Summer Fun and Fitness for tips to get outside on two wheels!)
If the weather isn’t conducive, you’ll have to think outside of the box to get outside of your place. But even if it seems like a hassle, it’s worth it. It’s free, it is fairly accessible to nearly everyone, and it’s crucial to your mental health. So, the only thing left to do is to overcome the anhedonic voice in your head telling you to stay in bed. Shut that thing down, go outside, and with any luck, you’ll feel better in no time.