Take a walk on the wild side

WP_20150714_001 (2)Last month I extolled the virtues of ‘mind-wandering’ (see also the original posting entitled ‘Mind-wandering’ September 3rd, 2014) and I have written in the past about the benefits of taking short walks to improve creative thinking (see my post entitled ‘The Charismatic Engineer‘ on June 4th, 2014).  Recent research by Greg Bateman and his colleagues at Stanford has shown it is better for your mental health to take those walks in the countryside.  Walking in a natural environment reduces rumination more effectively than in an urban environment.  Rumination is repetitive, negative and self-critical thinking that is often damaging to mental health. Of course, this will not be news to many outdoor enthusiasts and ‘pastoral crazes’ are not new.  Helen MacDonald has described how in 1930s people used to enjoy long walks in the countryside, including moonlit rambles.  For instance, in 1932 the Southern Railway Company offered an excursion to a moonlit walk along the South Downs in England.  They expected to sell three or four dozen tickets but one and half thousand people showed up.  This 1930s pastoral craze was described by Jed Esty as ‘one element in a wider movement of national cultural salvage’ following the economic disaster of the Great Depression and the instabilities in Europe.  Maybe it’s time for train companies to offer moonlit excursions again?

Sources:

Helen MacDonald, H is for Hawk, Vintage Books, London 2014

Jed Esty, A shrinking island: Modernism and National Culture in England, Princeton University Press,2003.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/06/how-walking-in-nature-prevents-depression/397172/?utm_source=SFFB

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/03/walking-nature-depression_n_7704604.html

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/28/8567.abstract

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