Bird Watching Can Help Reduce Anxiety and Depression
The feathery, chirpy creatures that share our environment can be a valuable asset for mental health — a study found a link between watching birds and lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress.
Research has shown that exposure to nature improves mood and is restorative in general.
Moreover, the increasing incidence of mental health problems in society has been attributed, in part, to the growing disconnect from the natural world, stemming from a trend toward more urbanized lifestyles.
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However, most studies deal with nature as a whole, instead of exploring the effects of its specific components, such as green space and birdsong. The new study examines the part birds play in the benefits of nature.
Study Finds Birds Make Cities Happier Places to Live In
Researchers at the University of Exeter, the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Queensland, surveyed over 270 people from different incomes, ethnicities and ages. All of the participants lived in urban regions of Southern England.
The data collected indicated that seeing birds, trees and shrubs had mental health benefits, whether the environment was an urban area or a tree-filled suburb. It also noted that those who spent less time outdoors reported more anxiety and stress.
A connection was seen between seeing more birds from a window, garden or neighborhood in the afternoon and lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress. The birds spotted included robins, crows, blackbirds and blue tilts, but the number rather than the species proved to be important.
“It appears people just like seeing birds, the more birds the better, whether that is a blackbird or a crow,” said lead author, research fellow Dr. Daniel Cox. “In another study we show that watching birds in the garden makes people feel more relaxed and connected to nature.”
“This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-being,” added Cox. “Birds around the home, and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live”
The study was published in the journal Bioscience.
The Benefits of Birdsong
A few studies have been conducted on the benefits of birdsong, the results of which add to anecdotal evidence that already exists. The findings suggest it contributes to stress recovery and fosters psychological wellbeing.
One study found birdsong might relieve the mental sluggishness of the post-meal slump, allowing people to concentrate and be alert after a lunch break. Some scientists also believe it boosts cognition.
Interestingly, the current study noted that even low levels of nature exposure led to better mental health, which is encouraging for people who have limited access to green space. In other words, it isn’t necessary to spend extended periods of time in nature to receive a benefit. Perhaps little things like having morning coffee in the backyard, glancing out the window several times during the day or walking in the park after work can make a difference. This natural mood booster is free of charge and needs no prescription.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.