Science is in the hunters’ corner when they tell you they’re going to the woods to relax, or calm down ,or to get a change in attitude. Here is what happens.
Research discovered evidence that the woodlands contain airborne substances (phytoncides) that relax humans, boost immunity, lower blood pressure and help fight cancer. Scientists also found compounds in the wilderness soil that improve mood and reduce anxiety and depression.
Mind, a United Kingdom mental-health charity, compiled a long list of ecotherapies and published a study that found nature walks reduced depression symptoms in 71 percent of its participants. Mind also found that three in five people with mental-health problems felt more positive about their lives when leaving an ecotherapy project.
As if the natural and physical-healing properties of Mother Earth aren’t enough, research also links our time in nature with creativity boosts, positivity bouts and greater acceptance of people’s differences. In the paper Rewilding Music; Improvisation, Wilderness, and the Global Musician, researchers in Helsinki, Finland, followed a study group of improvisational artists into the wilderness for three nights, and then to a group performance.
The study’s participants were asked to relate their experiences. They concluded that the qualities of listening, acceptance and authenticity were enhanced by their time in the outdoors. One participant said: “Personally, I am happiest when I am in the wilderness. I would stay there if I could, and I spend a lot of weekends just away from the city, in the peace of quiet of the forest, walking. When I’m there, I calm down.”