Think you’re busy?

Office workers routinely work long hours.

When good stress turn bad

Stress runs rampant, and there’s even a saying that people are being worked to death.

A preventable tragedy that claims a small but growing number of lives every year.

Perhaps for this reason (and the fact that 93 percent of the population lives in cities), has become an epicenter for a particular form of therapy called forest bathing.

Elsewhere in the world, scientists have caught on that even a quick trip into nature does wonders for our mental health.

One way that nature is able to keep us mentally strong is through its influence on an area of the brain called the subgenual prefrontal cortex.

This tiny region is thought to process sadness, guilt, remorse, and negative self-talk.

After subjects spent ninety minutes in a natural environment, not only had this area become markedly subdued (evident on brain scans), but the participants showed less rumination compared to controls.

People who ruminate more are less forgiving of themselves, and excessive rumination can often forewarn depression and even suicidal ideation.

Other mechanisms may explain why nature is such a potent salve for the soul.

It provides an opportunity to bask in the bright light of the sun, which stimulates the production of vitamin D and anchors our bodies’ twenty-four-hour cycle.

We are cooled (or warmed) by the natural environment, triggering our bodies’ ancient thermoregulatory systems along with a number of beneficial brain changes.

And we breathe in the scent of nature itself, carried through the air by various plant chemicals that may boost immunity and even the brain’s neuroprotective growth factor, BDNF.

At what “dose” do we begin to reap the benefits of nature?

Published in Frontiers in Psychology, one study found that immersion into nature significantly reduced levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with chronic stress, after only twenty minutes.

Whether you go for the “minimal effective dose” suggested by this study, or opt for a full weekend outdoors, a little nature goes a long way.

Don’t hold yourself captive; get out there and bathe in nature!

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