Spending Time In Nature Changes The Brain

bike outside nature man

The Japanese culture loves nature. Hundreds of miles of walking trails all throughout the country are government owned, prescribed to Japanese citizens as part of their national health plan. Tree bathing is an ancient practice meant to improve health and wellbeing. Regarding nature as a preventative and medicinal practice is more common in the East than it is in the West. At LEAD Recovery Center, we believe that the power of nature is healing. That is why every weekend we take our clients on an immersive adventure experience, helping them learn through nature and from nature. Various scientific studies have found that spending time near or surrounded by “blue space”, meaning water, and “green space”, meaning natural foliage, can alter biochemistry for the better.

Population Density and Depression

Research has found that people who live in high density, high population city areas are more prone to developing anxiety and depression than those who live in more natural surroundings. Simple studies have demonstrated a higher level of happiness, attentiveness, and awareness after spending just twenty minutes in an area with higher levels of green. Advanced studies have detailed exactly the way the brain changes in response to nature.

Nature Matters

According to an article by The New York Times, titled “How Nature Changes The Brain” there is an area of the brain called the subgenual prefrontal cortex in which a particularly human trait called “brooding” lives. Scientists prefer to call brooding “cognitive rumination”. Constantly thinking about and playing over less than pleasant moments can alter our brain chemistry and cause us to become more depressed. Participants in one study either walked for 90 minutes in nature or walked along the highway. Unsurprisingly, those who spent time in nature had decreased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, meaning less brain energy dedicated to brooding or ruminating.

Decreased activity in areas of the brain which contribute to negativity is helpful in boosting positivity which spreads to other areas of the brain. Recovery is not necessarily a process of learning to be positive, but learning how to manage and regulate negativity. Helping decrease as well as increase brain activity in certain areas is helpful to managing mental health and inspiring more meaning in recovery.

For more information on our adventure learning programming and clinical treatment methods, call 800-380-0012.