By: James Hixon, M.D., Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology
The World Health Organization says depression will be the second largest single cause of illness in the world by 2020.
Studies have been commissioned by the University of Essex on Ecotherapy. Ecotherapy is about getting out of doors and becoming active in a natural environment as a way of boosting mental health. This recent study showed;
- 71 percent reported decreased levels of depression after a walk in nature.
- Over 70 percent said they felt less tense after a walk in nature.
- 90 percent said their self esteem increased after a walk in nature.
- 88 percent of people reported feeling improved mood after their walk in nature.
4 Reasons researchers believe our moods change when we are in nature.
- Connections: We make nature and social connections with animals, trees, clouds and our surroundings.
- Our senses: Sensory stimulation; colors, sounds, fresh air, wind, all stimulate our senses.
- Activity: We are walking and in motion which makes us produce endorphins and serotonin.
- Escape from our busy lives: We are reflecting, thinking and coming home to our self and this de-stresses and nourishes us.
James S. Hixon, M.D. is board certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. Dr. Hixon has a thriving private practice in gastroenterology and is the Chief of Staff at a regional hospital. He has participated in training programs with Herbert Benson, M.D. at the Harvard Mind-Body Institute, Dean Ornish, M.D. at the Preventive Medicine Institute and Rachael Remen, M.D. at the Center for Prevention of Disease and Illness and other integrative and complementary medical research groups.