How the Great Outdoors Can Help in Easing Your Depression | Rice Psychology
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How the Great Outdoors Can Help in Easing Your Depression

Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.

I’m a single mom who works 9 to 5 and takes care of two kids. Most of my time is spent sitting at my desk, running errands, attending school functions, helping with homework, or cleaning the house. The state of my life left me feeling lonely, empty, and depressed, which was later diagnosed by a psychologist. It was recommended that, on top of my therapy, I should make some time for myself. My psychologist recommended a jog in the park or walking the dog. After taking her advice, I was surprised at how much better I felt in just a few days.

Most people spend the majority of their time indoors, mostly due to work and time at home. Think about the last time you spent an hour or two taking in Mother Nature by enjoying a hike, walking the dog, or riding your bike. Maybe you went out because you wanted to get your mind off of things or you just wanted to clear your head. Did it make you feel better?

Getting out can be great for your mental well-being and can even help if you’re dealing with something as serious as clinical depression. Let’s go into detail about this very interesting subject.

Educated Findings

According to several studies, mental health issues like anxiety and depression may be eased by spending some time in the great outdoors. One specific study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walk in a natural area for 90 minutes had decreased activity in the part of the brain that plays a role in depression compared to those who walk in urban areas.

Another study conducted in Denmark and reported in the same journal found that children who grew up surrounded by greenspace had significantly fewer diagnosable mental health problems than those who grew up with less greenery.

The calming effects of the outdoors can partially be attributed to its visual aspects, according to Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance. “Having something pleasant to focus on, like trees and greenery, helps distract your mind from negative thinking. So, your thoughts become less filled with worry,” he said.

Am I Depressed?

We understand that it can sometimes be tough to figure out exactly why you’re feeling a certain way. This can often create confusion and anxiety, which can worsen your state of mind. If you feel like you might be depressed but aren’t sure, keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability, and frustration
  • Loss of interest in normal activities like hobbies or sex
  • Insomnia or prolonged sleeping
  • Lack of energy
  • Changes in appetite (may include weight loss in most and weight gain in some)
  • Feeling guilty for past occurrences or fixating on past failures
  • Trouble with memory, thinking, or concentrating
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

You Are Not Alone

Rice Psychology Group would like to remind you that you’re not alone if you’re experiencing any of the signs above. Our team specializes in helping people identify their problems so that together, we can find a clear path back to the normality you need. Contact us online or visit us in Tampa for more information about the ways we can help.

About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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