Have you ever taken a walk in the middle of the day and spent the whole time worrying about things that were bothering you? Maybe you were counting every mistake you made in your last class, or thinking of all the things you should have said during a conversation with your teacher.
As it turns out, the fix might be as simple as changing where you walk. A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending even a short time in natural environments may alter your mood and benefit your mental health.
The researchers gathered a group of 38 adults and split them into two groups. Half the volunteers took a walk through a quiet green space on a college campus, while the others walked near a busy highway. They discovered (not surprisingly) that the nature walkers were less hung up on the negative parts of their lives than they were before the walk, and felt more soothed. The highway walkers tended to brood just as much as they had before.
It's already known that people who live near green spaces or spend more time outdoors are usually less anxious and stressed than those in cities. But dancers who jump from auditions to summer intensives to rehearsals (many of which take place in urban areas) may not have the time to escape to nature for long. There's good news, though: Even strolling in a park may give you the same instantaneous benefits. The next time you need to clear your mind, seek out the nearest courtyard or green space.