Mental health: the scientific way to reduce stress in 20 minutes

Reduce Stress? The solution exists and is at hand. Indeed of foot …

Eugenio Spagnuolo

– Milan

There are many ways to combat stress. Sleep the right. Take some time for yourself. Learning to say no … Alas, it is not always possible to implement these behaviors. And even if you did, the results would still take a while to arrive. The good news? A quicker and more concrete way to reduce stress, according to science, not only exists, but is within everyone’s reach.

How to reduce stress in 20 minutes

The most immediate way to reduce stress is as easy as it is effective: take a 20-30 minute walk in a public park, a wood, in the countryside. A full immersion in the green is just what frees us most quickly from stress. To say this are various scientific researches.

Stress? Walking in nature erases it

According to a 2019 study published in Frontiers in Psychology, spending just 20 minutes in nature causes stress hormone levels to plummet. Some doctors of the prestigious Harvard University they recruited 40 volunteers who were asked to spend time in a natural environment, walking or simply sitting, for at least 10 minutes, 3 days a week for 2 months. Their hormone levels were measured by saliva samples before and after their encounters with nature. Hence the discovery that spending at least 20-30 minutes immersed in a natural environment was associated with a significant drop in cortisol levels (the stress hormone). “Time and other conditions do not affect stress levels,” the researchers explain. “So next time you need to relax or just work on your mental wellbeing, find a natural environment and spend some time there.”

Green calms negative thoughts

Psychologist Beth Collier, founder of Nature Therapy School, based on outdoor therapy with patients, told The Guardian newspaper one of the best benefits of walking in nature. “The part of the brain responsible for negative and ruminant thoughts – the subgenual prefrontal cortex – seems to calm down when we connect with nature, which allows us to process problems“.

Running or power walking in nature also has its positive effects, according to psychologist William Pullen, inventor of psycho-therapeutic running: “We have a thinking brain and an acting brain. In times of anxiety and depression, the thinking brain goes into overdrive and generates unnecessary ruminating thoughts. This can cause us to lose motivation for almost anything. But by moving our bodies, we can activate the acting brain again. And this seems to bring hope and light back to people. Moving can also combat the feeling of being stuck and sometimes we can solve a problem, literally moving from A to B. Doing it in nature is important, even if movement is the real medicine for me. “

Genes, stress, nature

“Nature also helps us cope with pain,” University of Minnesota scientists write. “So long as we are genetically programmed to love trees, plants, water and other natural elementswe are absorbed by nature and distracted by our pain and discomfort. “And as incredible as it may seem, nature also has healing powers. According to a well-known study, published in the 1980s in the journal Science, and which has had several confirmations over the years, individuals recovering from surgery healed faster and with fewer medications, if they could enjoy the view from their window. trees.

Nature connects us with others

Finally, research conducted by the University of Illinois found that those who live in an urban public housing area with access to green space experience much stronger connections with neighbors compared to those who do not have the same luck. Residents with access to greenery “reported knowing more people, feeling stronger feelings of unity with neighbors, being more concerned with helping and supporting each other, and having stronger feelings of belonging than those living in treeless condominiums. “psychologists observe, according to which developing positive connections with those who live nearby is an additional and powerful antidote to mood disorders and stress.

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