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Green spaces can ease mental stress, new study finds

Green spaces can ease mental stress, new study finds A new study finds that the environment can increase or decrease stress.

As adults age, they go through major life changes. These can affect their mental health and leave them feeling upset. What if there were a way to fend off depression in seniors?

Green spaces can soothe seniors
A recent study from the University of York recently discovered the positive implications of nature for individuals over 65. Researchers used an EEG to measure brain activity for individuals in a bustling urban environment or a quieter space with more greenery. They found that one part of maintaining strong mental health is spending time away from loud environments - and away from the constant stimulation of technology. This can help seniors feel more relaxed. Individuals who had a brief respite from loud cityscapes reported feeling calmer. In addition to the self-reported positive feelings, brain scans revealed that these individuals felt less frustrated. In fact, additional research has found that constantly being in an environment that requires focus or provides non-stop stimulation leads to mental fatigue.

Green spaces can provide a mental breather to help seniors meditate and maintain strong mental health.

Individuals reported feeling calmer after spending time surrounded by nature.Individuals reported feeling calmer after spending time surrounded by nature.

A deeper dive into mental health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as individuals age, their risk for experiencing depression increases. Depression encapsulates multiple feelings - and the disease manifests differently between men and women. The National Institute of Mental Health noted that men are more likely to experience fatigue, lose interest in work, and could rely on drugs and alcohol to cope. In contrast, women are more likely to experience feelings of worthlessness and extreme sadness.

The site noted that depression may be more frequent with individuals suffering from another disease that inhibits mobility. Being active is a large component of mental health for seniors: It gives them a greater ability to socialize as well as helps with feel-good endorphins from exercise, while helping them maintain their agency and independence. Individuals most affected by depression are those receiving home health care.

To cope with this disease, NIMH suggested seeking professional help while avoiding self medication. In addition, the institute highlighted the benefits of exercise and remaining social. Incorporating more greenery along with social interactions into their environments may help mitigate symptoms of depression.

Coping with depression is not a given when individuals age. Making small changes to the environment can help. Call Interim Health to learn more.

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