You know when people say you should “go outside and clear your head”? Funnily enough, it actually does you wonders. In a recent US study, researchers found a link between spending time in nature and a decrease in rumination and anxiety.
Similar to the recent news that in greener urban spaces, people tend to report greater happiness and significantly higher life satisfaction than those who live in densely populated areas, this study found that – thanks to an already determined link between urbanisation and depression – those who left their urban spaces and went on hikes in nature reported fewer mental stresses and negative thoughts than those who walked around densely populated urban areas.
Similarly, it turns out that disconnecting from technology has an effect on creative problem solving. Remember how the last time you went hiking you were bummed out because you had no reception and you couldn’t ‘gram that cool mountain view? Well, that could actually be for the best.
In another recent study from the UK, researchers found that immersing yourself in a natural setting directly improved creative reasoning. It makes sense – when you’re permanently linked to your phone, you always have Google or a MacGyver-like friend on speed-dial as a back up, hence you’re less likely to think creatively. Additionally, being plugged in 24/7 and working in an urban environment can disturb us from really focussing as there’s always something else (text messages, city noise, and so on) that demand our attention.
In the day and age where hiking can be prescribed by doctors, it might be time to dig those dusty walking boots out from the back of your closet and give nature immersion a go. What have you got to lose?