Green prescriptions for depression?


Just found this page on the BBC website.

"A recent US study found that being close to nature might soothe the mind by reducing rumination - when negative thoughts get stuck on repeat, playing over and over in the mind.

We evolved with nature and it's completely unnatural for us to be separated from it"

Nigel Dunnett,, University of Sheffield

"A team at Stanford University compared the effects of taking a nature walk through a greenspace with a stroll in an urban environment - in this case beside a busy road in Palo Alto.

Brain scans showed reduced activity in an area of the brain linked to risk of mental illness in participants who took a 90-minute walk among oaks, birds and squirrels.

They also reported lower levels of rumination."

I ruminate a lot. But for the past year I have been taking our first family dog out walking regularly.

I have been feeling a lot better too.

Still dwell on negative thoughts, but not as much.

I think I'll take the dog out more often.



10 Replies

  • Thanks for this Dave. I think there is much to be said for the power of nature to heal us and alter our brain chemistry and thought patterns. Something in the colour, the sounds, the smells ... also there is something about the repetitive pattern of one foot after the other that is soothing. I think in the sunshine the colours of natural things can spark some element of creativity in a mind that might help to jolt thoughts into a new direction

  • Hi Tazmania.

    You're right. Mindfulness is certainly easier for me when walking.

    all of the senses are engaged and it is then easier to ignore and forget the negative intrusions.

    By the Way , The MOOC I am following, Learning to learn, points out that the brain shifts into "diffuse mode" when relaxing and not being too focused on any one thing. Diffuse mode is when creativity is enabled and our thoughts do combine in different ways.

    I'm glad I'm still open for more learning



  • I think that diffuse way of being is what I most like about rambling - but ironically what I call it is mindlessness - as opposed to mindfulness which is a more conscious attempt to allow oneself to be in the moment. I love anything that enables me to be mindless as that is when I am creative. Interesting the different use of words :) x

  • Hi I take my sisters dog out and I just love it. Ok it's a pain in the winter or when it's raining but the lovely weather makes up for it. Watching her play and enjoy life so much is a real tonic for me. And the exercise does me good. Bev x

  • I am glad to read this Bev asI am thinking of getting a dog and use exactly the same argument - ok yes, taking it out in the rain will be a pain but what a lot of pleasure in return, and the exercise too. Exactly my rationale. :) xx

  • Ha ha Sue that's good news. To be honest I wouldn't want my own dog because I live on my own and I want the freedom to come and go as I please without having my life limited by a full time dog. A part time dog suits me very well :)

    What type would you get? If I had my own I would want a cockapoo or a westie as I think they are lovely dogs. My family always had labs. Bev xx

  • How funny, I would want a cookerpoo, or springeroo, or a springer or a lab or golden retriever! I would want the dog to be mine otherwise I wouldn't love it but would just feel it was nice enough but a bit of a chore. I need to become attached in order to put the work in. xx

  • We take walks in countryside with Pax and generally we have no road noise as we are set well away from any main roads. We feel that the smell of the hedge rows and the sound of the birds seems to refresh us as we also very rarely meet anyone so the walk is undertaken in complete silence.

    Last night we saw a hare and red deer, and had a woodpecker in our back lane as well.

    All I can say is I would always prefer the silence and countryside sounds and that seems to refresh our thoughts and relax the three of us. If we meet anyone we talk for a short while and we move on as fast as we can.

    We also take the Pax for walks on the beach although we find even when empty it is generally noisy with a higher number of people around, sometimes here the beaches can be empty and sad to say although traffic is a good distance away, we still get the sounds.

    We find that we do not benefit as much as in the countryside because of this.

    Whatever you do is better sitting in the house doing nothing. Sad to say not everyone has countryside on their doorstep, although I strongly advise anyone who suffers from depression to get out of built up areas at least once a week and hear the silence.


  • Hi Dave, I noticed a while ago that I feel most peaceful when I'm out with the dog. It doesn't mean I manage to psyche myself up to go out every day, some days other family members have to walk her, but you're right, it does help when I'm not too anxious to manage it. I lived in the countryside for most of my adult life until meeting my partner 3 years ago and moving into town. Funnily enough that's when my anxiety and depression got worse. He has agreed to go and sit in the park for a bit this afternoon to watch the swallows and walk the dog at the same time. Thank you for putting the idea in my head. Cheers, Lois

  • Hi Lois.

    I think my depression also got worse when i started a daily commute to Nottingham rather than the flexibility of working from home and getting regular walks.

    A counselor once asked me about the "Side Benefits" of my previous role. I was in the Lake district, could see Windermere and the fells from my office and ofeten could work outside rather than be stuck inside.

    My depression started when I left a lot of that and moved jobs into a different area.

    The countryside has a lot of side benefits for everyone.