The Nature of Art and Depression


I have always enjoyed the outdoors. I love to hike and camp, and whenever I was feeling down if I could get myself to take a walk, I always felt better afterword.  So, when I started learning about drawing and how to look for the shapes to make it easier to draw that tree or bird, I started paying more attention to nature when I was out there walking.  I started to see that there were shapes to our flowers, trees, and even a blade of grass.  When looking at it this way I saw that art is all around us we just have to pay attention to it enough to see that it is there.

The shapes of the trees are circles and triangles and sometimes you can see a square.  The leaves of trees have heart shapes, teardrop shapes and many leaves remind me of the shape of the club on a deck of cards.  Even water had a form of natural shape.  This just made my walks even more enjoyable.

I have just started drawing and here are a couple of my first drawings that are all about nature.

Drawing Collage

You will see that birds have ovals and circles for their bodies, their beaks are triangles. Leaves are heart shaped or have a soft diamond shape to them.  Tree branches are cylinders.  Flowers are heart, oval, and round.

I started to wonder, how nature effects depression and here is what I found.  In a study done by Stanford University, they looked at “the nature effect” and how it might reduce rumination, which is a pattern of thought that you go over in your mind, repeatedly; here is what they had to say:

“Rumination is what happens when you get really sad, and you can’t stop thinking about your glumness and what’s causing it: the breakup, the layoff, that biting remark. Rumination shows up as increased activity in a brain region called the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a narrow band in the lower part of the brain that regulates negative emotions. If rumination continues for too long unabated, depression can set it.

In their study, they had a group of people walk in the forest and another group walk along the highway.  The group that walked in the forest saw a decrease in their Rumination and the group that walked along the highway saw no decrease at all.  I can totally see how this would be true because walking in nature helps me too.

In an article from the University of Minnesota on How Nature Impacts our Mood, multiple studies have been completed and here are a couple that stood out to me.

Nature Restores


In one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, too anxious to more calm and balanced.  In other   studies by Ulrich, Kim and Cervinka, show that time in nature or scenes of nature are associated with a positive mood, and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality.

Nature Heals

Flowers are everywhere Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings.  Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to you physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.  It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.

My challenge to you is to go out and take that walk in Nature.  Go to a nice nature preserve, park or forest and just walk.  Listen to the sounds of the birds, crickets, and wind.  Pay attention to what you are seeing and try to find those shapes.  They are all around you.  See how you feel when you return home.

Happy walking – Becca


4 Comments on “The Nature of Art and Depression

  1. Because, this is absolutely beautiful. I hope you are okay with me sharing this with a close friend of mine that is also battling depression. So many women are busy being super heroes they forget their needs, taking care of themselves, remembering who they are, their connections and what fills them up spiritually. Love to you, Angela

  2. Thank you! I am honored that you would like to share this post. I wish your friend the best and maybe she will be willing to connect to Journey of Hope to help give her some inspiration.

  3. Thanks for stopping by and reading. I am glad you enjoyed the post.

I would love to here from you. Thanks, Becca

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