Nature's antidepressant: Spring is finally here! - KMSP-TV

Nature's antidepressant: Spring is finally here!

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(WJBK) -

You might call it nature's antidepressant: spring!

The calendar now says spring but mother nature doesn't. However, research shows the moment spring really arrives, you should rush outside and prepare to feel good.

Cleveland Clinic psychologist Scott Bea says part of the reason the spring season is such a "pick-me-up" is because of what winter does to us. In the colder months, we are inside more and have less time and options for recreational activities.

University of Michigan researchers have studied how mood and mental health can be impacted by the weather. They found the more time spent outside in pleasant temperatures, the more mood and memory improved.

What's interesting is that hotter temperatures aren't exactly better.

The U-M study found that the optimal temperature for mood for most Americans is 72 degrees. Any hotter, and people were not as happy.

So, how much outside time do you need to feel happy?

Thirty minutes in the warm sunshine seemed to pay off in the research, and Dr. Bea says after the winter we've had, some folks may be in need of a sunny "mental health day."

"The classic mental health day is probably taken when someone is feeling a little bit pinched or feeling they need a little compensation for the suffering in their life and, of course, this winter has had a lot of people feeling that suffering," says Dr. Bea.   

A funny footnote to the U-M research, if the weather is really nice outside and you're stuck inside all day, that actually decreases your good mood and reduces your cognitive skills. Meaning, you might feel irritated and bored when you thing the rest of the world is enjoying a beautiful day outside.

So make sure you dedicate some time to going outdoors when the temperatures do increase.

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