WELLNESS
12/11/2014 04:51 pm ET Updated Dec 11, 2014

'Nature Deficit Disorder' Might Be Made Up, But The Health Benefits Of Being Outside Are Real

Now that winter is upon us, an estimated 4 to 6 percent of the American population will contend with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depression-related condition that researchers believe may stem from a lack of time outside and sun exposure during the season's short days. But SAD isn't the only ailment related to our lack of connection with the outdoors.

The Atlantic's James Hamblin, M.D., explores how our natural surroundings can serve as a form of emotional healing. Hamblin spoke to Pheonix Smith and Ariana Candell, two ecotherapists, on the rewards of going outside and "Nature Deficit Disorder." While the term, coined by journalist Richard Louv, isn't a psychological diagnosis, research shows that nature can have a positive influence on our lives.

"Being in nature is therapeutic, but ecotherapy tends to be more with some kind of professional that is supporting another person to actually deal with something that's going on for them that's challenging," Candell explained in the video.

Ecotherapy techniques have been shown to ease anxiety, boost social connections and even lower blood pressure, The Atlantic reported. Previous studies have also found that going for a walk in nature can help reduce depression symptoms. Not to mention, going outside can spike those Vitamin D levels -- a necessary nutrient in fighting conditions like SAD.

Another perk? It forces you to disconnect from those screens and focus on your wellness.

"We tend to be very impatient, we're plugged into our phones and the Internet, where we can get information like that," Smith said in the video. "Nature doesn't work like that. It takes time for the body and mind to settle into something ... It's an easy way to support the well-being and resiliency of all people."

For more on the benefits of ecotherapy and how it works, check out the funny Atlantic video above.

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