Doctors in Shetland, Scotland, are authorised to prescribe nature to their patients. Thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, the program seeks to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and increase happiness for those with diabetes, a mental illness, stress, heart disease, and more. Meanwhile, in Montreal, Canada, doctors are able to prescribe free art museum visits to patients with a range of ailments, from depression to diabetes to chronic illnesses.
If you spend 90 minutes of your day outside in a wooded area, there will be a decrease of activity in the part of your brain typically associated with depression. Spending time in nature not only reduces blood pressure, anxiety, and increases happiness, but it reduces aggression, ADHD symptoms, improves pain control, the immune system, and—per a summary of research regarding the health benefits of nature—there’s much more we don’t know and are figuring out every day.
“There’s more and more scientific proof that art therapy is good for your physical health,” said Dr. Hélène Boyer, vice-president of Médecins francophones du Canada and the head of the family medicine group at the CLSC St-Louis-du-Parc told the Montreal Gazette.
”It increases our level of cortisol and our level of serotonin. We secrete hormones when we visit a museum and these hormones are responsible for our well-being. It’s good for mental-health issues but it’s also good for patients with diabetes, for patients in palliative care, for people with chronic illness.”