Anxiety disorders are rising exponentially and it appears that we are nearly all suffering.
According to the latest data about 1/5 of the population suffer from anxiety all the time or some of the time, and it comprises of about 30% of all mental health problems seen by Family Doctors and General Practitioners.
However, this is a problem that is widely under diagnosed, under treated and under reported so the real numbers are likely to be considerably higher.
In light of this it is essential that more recent findings, regarding the healing power of nature in cases of anxiety, are reported to a wider audience.
Chinese Medicine and Nature's Rhythm
We have slowly moved further and further away from listening to the cues of nature and the seasons, which direct us as to how to behave, eat and rest.
We now have the same working day, social calendar and exercise regime in the winter as we do in the height of the summer.
Indeed as we all know advances of modern technology and logistics allow us to be connected at all times and have access to foods out of season.
In Chinese Medicine it is regarded as essential to live within nature’s rhythm; from resting in the winter and eating warm food to being very active and choosing more cooling foods in the summer.
All this might seem obvious but we don’t pay enough attention to it in our modern life and we are paying the price in many ways.
Science is now taking the importance of nature on our mental and emotional health (which of course translates immediately to our physical health) seriously.
A recent US study showed that being in nature calms the mind and reduces overthinking. Who doesn’t feel their shoulders drop when standing out in nature when all stimuli are reduced to a bare minimum?
The study was conducted by a team from Stanford University who compared the effects of walking in nature through a green space with that of a stroll down a busy road in Palo Alto. Interestingly the brain scans showed a reduced activity in the area of the brain linked with mental illness and they also reported lower levels of overthinking and worry.
The only remarkable thing about these tests is that we actually have to do them in the first place, surely, we innately know that getting out for a walk among the trees is going to chill us out?
After thousands of years of evolution it is only in an incredibly short space of time that nearly 50% of the population are urban dwellers not to mention the development in our ‘on-line lives’.
Social media has a huge role to play in the rise of anxiety, making us all over stimulated and suffering essentially from ‘nervous exhaustion’ – we are simply not made to deal with such spikes in adrenaline from every text, email, instagram like, facebook post etc.
We absolutely have to find time to put down our devices and head outside into nature for the antidote and cure – peace, trees, expanse, quiet and solitude.
Could this research herald the beginning of doctors prescribing nature as a viable treatment for anxiety? We hope so!