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1 thing to do today lifts depression and calms anxiety

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Bird watching lifts depression, study finds

Watching birds is an easy way to give mental health a boost and it may be the one easiest thing you can do today. New research suggest bird watching is something we all might consider doing on a regular basis to lift depression and calm anxiety.


The study that was carried out by Exeter University shows just living near birds can lift depression and relieve stress, whether it's in the city or the suburbs.

Lead author Dr Daniel Cox, a research fellow at the University of Exeter said: ‘This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental wellbeing."

Mental health nature connection grows stronger

Living around trees and shrubs that attract birds was found in the study to lift depression and reduce stress and anxiety.

The study authors say there has been research supporting the benefits of natural environments for mental health, but no studies have focused on what components in nature contribute to well-being.

The researchers wanted to find out what parts of nature might be linked to improved mental health.

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The finding that included hundreds of people of all ages, varying incomes and ethnicities revealed people that reported spending time indoors compared to previous weeks were more likely to report feeling anxious and depressed.

Surveys of 270 people revealed seeing birds in the afternoon - no matter what type - was associated with lower stress and anxiety.

The takeaway the researchers say is that cities could be happier places by focusing on the impact nature has on mental health. In this case, watching birds fits the bill.

Past studies have shown there may not be enough focus on the therapeutic benefits of nature for promoting well being and health.

Connecting with the natural environment for improved health has been the focus of ecopsychologists who explain urban environments can confused the senses. The simple act of watching birds can make people feel relaxed. The finding explains the why so many people are drawn to local natural areas such as parks with benches.


"Doses of Neighborhood Nature: The Benefits for Mental Health of Living with Nature"
Daniel T. C. Cox et al
BioScience (2017) 67 (2): 147-155. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biw173
Published: 13 January 2017

Updated: 3/2/2017



Watching is so illuminating...watching Mockingbirds work in tandem against an intruder with one pretending to have a broken wing to give its mate an opportunity to attack from the rear...watching a hawk running from a swarm of crows decide to invert in flight and use their talons to strike or even kill an attacking crow...listening to a Mockingbird run through his list of multiple calls in an effort to attract a mate...it's relaxing just to recall these events.
We moved to a raveen lot where there are lots of birds. We have a new hobby that we love.