Watching garden birds is good for your mental health, research shows

Being able to see birds, shrubs and trees can help mental health, despite whether people are in an urban or more rural area, academics found
Being able to see birds, shrubs and trees can help mental health, even if people are not in a rural area, academics found Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Officer workers can de-stress by watching birds out of their window, a study has suggested after it found it makes people less anxious and depressed. 

Being able to see birds, shrubs and trees can help mental health, even if people are not in a rural area, the academics found. 

This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-beingDr Daniel Cox, who led the study

The study, which involved 270 from the areas around Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes, found that lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of birds people could see in the afternoon. It did not matter what species of bird they were watching. 

Last night, 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."

The researchers, who included academics from the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Queensland, also found that those who spend less time outdoors than they are used to are more likely to report they feel anxious or depressed. 

You don't have to be a professional bird watcher to benefit from the lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The positive association between birds, shrubs and trees and better mental health applied, even after controlling for variation in neighbourhood deprivation, household income, age and a wide range of other socio-demographic factors.

Dr Cox added: "Birds around the home, and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live."

Previous studies put the change in well-being down to the fact people feel relaxed and connected to nature when looking at birds and trees. 

The research was published in the Bioscience journal. 

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