This study shows that nature makes you happier and less brooding. During this study the researchers randomly assigned 60 participants to a 50- minute walk in either a natural setting (oak woodlands) or an urban setting (along a 4-lane road). Before and after the walk, the participants were assessed on their emotional state and on cognitive measures, such as how well they could perform tasks requiring short-term memory. Results showed that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination (focused attention on negative aspects of oneself), and negative affect, as well as more positive emotions, in comparison to the urban walkers. They also improved their performance on the memory tasks.
Even so, participants who walked in a natural setting versus an urban setting reported decreased rumination after the walk, and they showed increased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain whose deactivation is affiliated with depression and anxiety–a finding that suggests nature may have important impacts on mood.