The Rotman Research Institute
in Toronto reports that patients suffering from depression showed measurable improvement in memory performance following a walk in a park, as compared with a walk in an urban area. The theory is that natural settings create space for entering a state of reflection, without the disturbances and distractions that tax the working memory, as one would encounter in an urban spot. Because difficulties with memory are a hallmark of depression, this finding can be an important tool in the fight for wellness. In my own situation, I know my husband’s depression is most certainly affected by his surroundings. When he spends time out of doors in one of the area camps where he volunteers, he returns with a positive attitude and refreshed mind.
In our work with families and loved ones of depressed persons, we have always advised intentional interaction with nature. It’s been our own experience that an encounter with the peace and beauty of the natural world can create a sense of calm and well-being that caregivers desperately need.
So, now that we’re in full spring, what are we waiting for? We can all benefit from some interaction with trees, grass, birds, and breeze. It’s time for a walk in the park!