The Healing Power Of Nature: How The Outdoors Can Ease Out Anxiety & Depression

When nine cancer survivors decided to take a hike through the lush forests of the Cultus Lake area in Oregon, each one of them found the heavy weight of their condition begin to melt away with each step they took.

The program, which was designed by a kinesiology professor from the University of the Fraser Valley, was created to evaluate how effective nature was at reducing anxiety levels. For this group of nine, who repeat the same hike twice per week for eight weeks, they found that it did just that: reduced their anxiety levels. The hike leader, Dr. Duna Goswami, an Abbotsford physician, found that hiking the lake reduced her anxiety right from the start, and was glad that the other participants had a similar response.

For many of the participants, these hikes allowed for some self reflection, with many of them learning to appreciate how strong they had become since receiving treatment for their cancer. Also, once they began hiking together, they found that it was easy to bond over their shared experiences as cancer survivors. Goswami, who survived breast cancer the year before, explained that “having cancer is isolating,” and “even though you’re surrounded by people who want to help, it is nice to be with those who know what it is like, who understand.”

For a number of the participants, their treatments had included chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation which—while effective at ridding the body of cancer—often make patients look and feel very ill for long periods of time. As a result, this can lead to long periods of time—sometimes as long as many years—of bed-ridden isolation, an inability to keep food down, and a significant reduction in physical activity among other troubling side-effects. In contrast, the physical and emotional benefits gained from each hike allowed these survivors—like Dr. Goswami—to regain control over the fitness of their bodies—allowing them to once again look and feel healthier.

Before and after each hike, the lead researcher, Dr. Iris Lesser, asked each participant to rank their anxiety. The results she found, by majority, were that each hike—composed of a purposeful walk through greenery-rich woodlands—provided each patient with a significant reduction in stress. There is clearly a great amount of therapeutic value to activities like this.

Sadly, according to local oncologists, more programs like Dr. Lesser’s hikes are desperately needed. Each of these oncologists reported a general lack of survivor care. Dr. Lesser hopes that these hikes could lead to future developments in post-cancer treatment plans around the world, making surviving cancer a more pleasant experience than it currently is. Given the positive effect that these hikes have had on this one group of survivors, the hope is that future cancer treatment programs would include similar doses of “prescribed nature.”

At Renew Ketamine, we offer ketamine infusion therapy for the treatment of depression and anxiety. We treat many cancer patients and survivors, as—in addition to being a highly-effective depression treatment—ketamine is also highly-effective for the treatment of pain. We encourage our patients to enjoy leisurely outdoor activities as much as possible, provided their primary care physicians agree that they are healthy enough to do so. Hiking and other similar activities are a great way to support and enhance the positive results of ketamine infusions.

Contact Renew Ketamine

Renew Ketamine is Chicagoland’s leading provider of ketamine infusions for depression and pain. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out if you or a loved one is a candidate for ketamine infusion therapy.