Natural News: New study proves exposure to nature directly improves happinessJanuary 15, 2014 by Shannon

January 15, 2014.

women nature(NaturalNews) A recently released study featured in the American Chemical Society (ACS) journal Environmental Science & Technology proves that exposure to nature directly improves mental health. With nearly 80 percent of the world's population residing in urban areas, ACS researcher Mathew P. White cites mental well-being as a major public health concern, listing "unipolar depressive disorder as the leading cause of disability in middle- to high-income countries." The study, which was conducted in the UK, compared the mental health of 100 people who moved from city landscapes to greener, more natural settings and those who relocated in the reverse direction. The data showed that those who relocated to settings with a higher exposure to nature were found to be overall happier during the three years that their mental health was recorded. The researchers concluded that "[m]oving to greener urban areas was associated with sustained mental health improvements, suggesting that environmental policies to increase urban green space may have sustainable public health benefits." Nature makes you feel alive Previous studies have shown that exposure to the great outdoors directly increases one's feelings of vitality, which subsequently generates more energy and even helps develop a more resistant immune system. The lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, Richard Ryan, insists, "Nature is fuel for the soul. Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature." Not only does direct exposure to nature increase happiness, but simply imagining yourself outdoors or recalling previous outdoor excursions has been shown to increase serotonin levels, thus boosting mood, decreasing exhaustion and improving overall health.  

By Julie Wilson