Here's The Difference Walking In Nature VS The City Can Have On Your Mental Health

We feel better already...
We feel better already...

We feel better already...

Getting out into nature can have a seriously good impact on people with major depressive disorder (MDD), a new study has uncovered.

The research, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, examined the link between walking in nature and the impact it has on people with MDD.

Going for a good old-fashioned walk out in nature lowered levels of “negative affect” in comparison to walks in urban settings (so excuse us while we plan to get out of town).

To date, a lot of research looking at nature and its affects on mental health has used participants without a diagnosis – the new study from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal investigated used adult psychiatric outpatients with MDD.

The researchers monitored the impacts of the walk – called negative and positive affect – using a template called The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, or PANAS.

In psychology, PANAS is a widely used scale to measure positive and negative affect. It’s essentially an in-depth questionnaire consisting of words that describe feelings and emotions.

Participants were asked to complete the PANAS questionnaire at six time points: before the walk, halfway during the walk, immediately post-walk, at home before bedtime, 24 hours post-walk, and 48 hours post-walk.

Study author Marie-Claude Geoffroy, from the Canada Research Chair in Youth Suicide Prevention and an assistant professor at McGill University, told PsyPost: “Although walking in all environments had a beneficial effect on mood, the results showed that negative feelings such as anger, sadness and stress – generally characteristic of major depression – were more reduced after a nature walk than after a walk in an urban environment.

“A simple walk in nature, whether in the forest or in an urban park, is effective in relieving negative thoughts and feelings.”

Not only that, but participants reported still feeling lowered levels of negative affect a whole 48 hours and their 60 minute walk. Although urban settings did have a slight lowered level, it was ‘less robust’ than a hit of nature.

So if you’re feeling low while working from home, don’t just head to the high street to take a break from your screen – search out your nearest green space and take it all in.

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.

  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).

  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.

  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email help@themix.org.uk

  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.

Related...