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Feeling a little down lately? Try grabbing a friend or relative and going out for a relaxing nature walk. While people have been saying for years that getting outside and going for walks helps them feel better, a recent study published online in the journal Ecopsychology is the first of its kind to backup these claims with credible research. The study, which involved almost 2,000 participants from the Walking for Health program in England, found that going on nature walks with other people helped to reduce stress levels and lower the risk of depression.
Like senior study author Dr. Sara Warber, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School said in a university news release, “our findings suggest that something as simple as joining an outdoor walking group may not only improve someone's daily positive emotions but may also contribute a non-pharmacological approach to serious conditions like depression.”
While experts recommend getting out and going for nature walks over using therapeutic lamps, therapeutic lamps (like the DayLight SunLite Lamp and the DayLight Sky Light Therapeutic Lamp) are still a great alternative for those who lack the mobility to go for walks or just can’t seem to find the time to get outdoors and go for a walk. Like going for nature walks, using therapeutic lamps has also been clinically proven to help improve moods, boost energy levels, and improve sleeping patterns; although going for nature walks also provides the added physical health benefits associated with exercising.
The bottom line is, when you’re feeling a little down and depressed, increasing your level of light exposure (either by getting out and going for a nature walk or even by using a therapeutic lamp) is an inexpensive, non-invasive, and non-pharmaceutical way to help improve one’s overall quality of life. Experts from the Mayo Clinic also suggest that those who can’t use antidepressant medications, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, (as well as those who don’t have insurance and can’t afford to seek mental health counseling or pay out-of-pocket for antidepressant medications) try using therapeutic lamps or going out on group nature walks.
Those looking for an additional mood-enhancing boost could also consider using mood-stabilizing herbal supplements, like the Nature’s Bounty St. John’s Wort herbal dietary supplements, which use naturally derived ingredients to help users balance their emotions and experience improved moods.