13 Dec Blue Mood? Feeling Stuck? Nature is Calling You!
Welcome to The Couch! I have often thought that it would be fun to write a blog. If you are at all like me, starting something new is hard. Thinking about it is sort of fun, wishing you were actually doing it instead of sitting on your rear is much less fun, and starting to actually do something new can be downright scary.
A solution for me when I am stuck in this place of stagnation is to go outdoors to walk or hike. Somehow, by the time I come back inside my mood has lifted and I feel more creatively stimulated. The views and the smells are soothing to me. My mother was a big fan of this from the time I was a kid. If I was moping or nervous she would say, “Go outside and take a walk.” She was ahead of her time.
Nature Helps Your Brain
Now, researchers have observed that walking, hiking, or running in a natural environment can boost mood, creativity, and problem solving abilities. It has been found that 50 minutes of walking in a natural setting can decrease anxiety, rumination, and general bad mood as well as increase creativity, problem solving, and memory performance. Research also shows that the part of our brain that gets stuck in ruminations is less active or calmer after a walk out in nature.
Atlanta metro is full of great trails and in 45 minutes you can be out in the country. Bundle up and try a walk or hike sometime soon when you feel emotionally, creatively, or intellectually stuck or down. Some of my favorites are nearby at Stone Mountain Park.
Well…that was not so bad. My walk helped tremendously. Stay tuned, The Couch blogs will include weekly mental health and wellness information on a variety of topics. Once started, new things aren’t so intimidating.
Kate Murphy, LMSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Berkeley Lake, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.
Nitty-gritty details can be found at:
- Bratman, G. N., Daily, G. C., Levy, B. L., & Gross, J. J. (2015). The benefits of nature experience: Improved affect and cognition. Landscape and Urban Planning, 138, 41-50. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.02.005
- Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., Hahn, K. S., Daily, G. C., & Gross, J. J. (2015). Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/112/28/8567.full
- Suttie, J. (2016). How nature can make you happier, kinder, and more creative. Greater Good. The Science of a More Meaningful Life. Retrieved from http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_nature_makes_you_kinder_happier_more_creative