How seeing birds near your home can improve your mental health

How seeing birds near your home can improve your mental health

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People who live in neighborhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress.

This is confirmed in a study by researchers from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, the British Ornithological Fund and the University of Queensland, Australia.

The research, which involved hundreds of people, concluded that being able to see birds and vegetation close to home has beneficial effects on mental health, be it urban neighborhoods or greener suburban areas.

For the study, the mental health of more than 270 people of different ages, socioeconomic levels and ethnicity was evaluated.

They concluded that those who spent less time outdoors than usual in the week prior to being interviewed tended to report more anxiety or depression.

More birds, less stress

After conducting extensive surveys on the number of birds in the morning and afternoon in the English regions of Milton Keynes, Bedford and Luton, the study found that lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with a greater number of birds than the People could see in the afternoon hours.

 

Birds perched on an antenna
Copyright of the THINKSTOCK image
Image caption It does not matter if the environment is urban or a greener suburban area.

 

Researchers studied the number of birds in the afternoon – which tend to be lower than those of the morning – because they are more adjusted to the number of birds that people are more likely to see in their neighborhoods on a daily basis.

The study counted varieties of common birds such as robins, blackbirds, titmice and crows, but found no correlation between bird species and mental health.

The difference seems to make it the number of birds that people could see from their windows, in the gardens or in the neighborhoods .

Interaction

Previous research found that people do not have a special ability to identify different species, which suggests that, for most, it is the interaction with birds and not a specific type of bird, which improves mental well-being.

“This study begins to clarify the role that some key elements of nature play in our mental well-being, ” said Dr. Daniel Cox, a researcher at the University of Exeter.

 

The hand of a person feeding some birds
Copyright of the THINKSTOCK image
Image caption Interaction is key, researchers say.

 

“Birds around the house and in nature in general, can be very effective in preventive health care, making cities healthier and happier places to live,” added Dr. Cox.

The positive association of birds, shrubs and trees with mental health is applicable even after adjustments made for variations such as deprivation status, neighborhoods, household income, age and a wide range of other socio- demographic factors .

A recent study conducted by Dr. Cox and Professor Kevin Gaston, both from the Environmental Sustainability Institute of the University of Exeter, found that bird and bird watching makes people feel more relaxed and connected with nature.

The conclusions of the research were published in the specialized journal Bioscience .

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