The relationship between nature and mental health is of particular interest to us at Rose Hill Center because we see the positive effects every day. The benefits provided just by virtue of our location cannot be understated. In fact, our more anecdotal findings are echoed by research on the topic.
Brooks et al. (2017) discuss the connection between nature and mood. The findings of this study which included 120 undergraduate students support a strong conclusion that nature contact is an important and effective strategy for emotion regulation. Other research on this topic found that any kind of immersion in the natural world heightens an overall sense of well-being and may increase positive engagement with the larger human community. Moreover, an article published by Harvard details how a simple 90 minutes spent in nature improves stress, anxiety and depression levels.
Exciting new research on the topic sheds light on the reasons behind these phenomena. Why (how) does being in nature improve mood and feelings of well-being? According to Bratman et al. (2015) being in nature changes how the brain functions. This study, first published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America included 38 participants who underwent brain scans before and after a walk. Half walked in an urban environment and half walked in nature. Neural activity in the area of the brain associated with rumination decreased among the nature walkers. The researchers stressed that “given the documented link between rumination and risk for depression and other psychological illnesses” this connection suggests a possible mechanism by which these benefits are generated.
Similar research is detailed in the top selling book The 3 Day Effect by Florence Williams which chronicles research conducted by David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist, with trauma survivors as they experience nature together. The findings support previous research that shows increases in mood and a general sense of well-being. Strayer also used brain scans to test the effects of nature on neural activity with similar results to Bratman’s study. Of particular note in the 3 Day Effect were the functional benefits of being in nature. Strayer included cognitive testing at various points in the nature experience, and found a significant increase in cognitive abilities and attention as well.
There are many treatment options available when someone is looking for residential care. The decision is something that requires research and a great deal of thoughtful inquiry. Please feel free to enlist the help of Rose Hill’s experienced admissions staff to assist you in your search. After all, they enjoy the brain-building benefits of nature everyday on Rose Hill’s campus!
Bratman, G., Hamilton, J., Hahn, K., Daily, G., & Gross, J. (2015). Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America,112(28), 8567-8567.
Brooks, A., Ottley, K., Arbuthnott, K., & Sevigny, P. (2017). Nature-related mood effects: Season and type of nature contact. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 54, 91-102. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2017.10.004
Jordan, R. (2015). Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature. Targeted News Service, N/A.
Kane, Suzanne. “10 Ways Nature Helps Your Well-Being”. Psychcentral, 8 July 2018. https://psychcentral.com/blog/10-ways-nature-helps-your-well-being LaBier, Douglas. “Why Connecting With Nature Elevates Your Mental Health”. Psychology Today, 8 Jan. 2018. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-new-resilience/201801/why-connecting-nature-elevates-your-mental-health
Sour mood getting you down? get back to nature. (2018). Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Men’s Health Watch,N/a.
Williams, F.(2016). This is your brain on nature. National Geographic, 229(1).