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Backyard Bird Watching Enough to Save You From Depression: New study

Watching birds from your balcony might go a long way in improving your mental health, said a recent study based on empiricial data analyzed. Those living in neighborhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress, the three latest manifestations of an urban health deterioration.

Researchers at the University of Exeter, the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Queensland conducted a study, involving hundreds of people to discover the benefits for mental health of bird watching in the neighbourhood, whether in urban or greenish suburban neighbourhoods.

Researchers based at the Environmental Sustainability Institute at the Penryn Campus at the University of Exeter, found that watching birds makes people feel relaxed and connected to nature.

They surveyed mental health in over 270 people from different ages, incomes and ethnicities, came out with a finding that every week matters whether you are going out doors or not than usual.

After conducting extensive surveys of the number of birds in the morning and afternoon in Milton Keynes, Bedford and Luton, the study found that lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were linked to the number of birds people could see in the afternoon.

The academics found that afternoon bird numbers tend to be lower than birds generally seen in the morning, hence the more birds you see, the better on a daily basis. The common birds include blackbirds, robins, blue tits and crows.

Further, the study did not find any relationship between the species of birds and mental health, but rather the number of birds they could see from their windows, in the garden or in their neighbourhood matters.

Previous studies have found that the ability to identify or interacting with birds in general and not just specific birds is the key to well-being. The latest study adheres to general bird watching is essential as a preventive measure to mental health.

University of Exeter research fellow Dr Daniel Cox, who led the study, said: “This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-being… Birds around the home, and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live”.

The positive association between birds, shrubs and trees with human mental health, however, does not apply to any neighbourhood deprivation, household income, age and other socio-demographic factors, said scientists.

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