‘It’s Doing My Head In’

I was asked to write about the health benefits of nature and I have to say I struggled at first in putting it together. Not because I didn’t know the health benefits but because I felt I had to write about facts on research studies. This just didn’t feel right to me. .

You see, I believe that we each instinctively know the benefits and we have our own unique experience of this. I can only speak from my experience. And yet sometimes we need scientific proof or evidence to remind us that what we believe, is true. Somehow it is becoming increasingly evident that people need proof instead of trusting what we feel and know in our bodies is true.
Anyway, I did a google search and although it was interesting, I found myself wondering why, why do we need studies? I came to the conclusion that we have moved so far away from nature over the generations that we have lost touch with it, and the knowledge that our forebears instinctively had when they lived off the land and in direct contact with nature.
I believe it is essential for our health and wellbeing that we return to fostering a closer connection to the natural world around us.  Outdoor activities are now becoming better known as Eco therapy or Green therapy due to many ways nature can help improve our health.

Here are some research findings about the health benefits of nature  …..for the factual ones among us

Mental

Spending time in nature has a restorative effect on human psychology, helping us recover from mental fatigue and improve our cognitive function. Nature modestly grabs our attention, and in so doing allows our brains to recover through a process called “Attention Restoration Therapy” a phrase coined by Rachel & Stephen Kaplan in their book The experience of Nature. *

Depression

Studies suggest even short periods of time in nature can reduce symptoms of depression*.

Heart

Exercise outside has greater health benefits than exercise inside or in an urban setting. It was revealed that people engaging in “green exercise” were shown to have lower blood pressure, higher self-esteem, and improved mood compared to indoor exercisers, according to the International Journal of Health research. *

Recovery

Patients with views of trees in their rooms had much shorter post-operation stays than those that did not according to Dr Roger Ulrich’s study in Science*
Access to natural light in post-operative patients reduces their use of pain medicine and their recover time. Research published in Psychosomatic Medicine. *

Obesity

As we walk, bike and exercise in nature we are inclined to do more of it. Walking through a park for half an hour will make you feel happier, which in turn will make you more likely to walk again tomorrow. Spending time in nature creates a cycle of mental and physical well-being. *

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD

Nature calms us. Nature restores us. For some of the most traumatized among us, including veterans suffering from PTSD, nature can be a critical component in their healing process. Gardening or spending time camping and fishing are all ways that veterans use nature to help ease their transition back to normal life. *

Stress

Access to trees and green spaces calm us and help to alleviate stress. A study found that Trees and green space are a major predictor of longevity, especially among people living in lower-income communities. *
Office workers with forest views showed greater job satisfaction and lower stress levels than office workers with non-forest views. *
There is an intuitive link between nature and well-being. Parks and trees, gardens and camp grounds make us more at ease. In general, the more time we spend outside in nature, the better our mental health will be. *
All of the above research references are from studies published on: * www.asla.org/healthbenefitsofnature
“A large scale study says group nature walks linked with significantly lower depression and perceived stress, enhanced mental well-being”.   www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive
Mind for Mental Health facilitates eco-therapy and explains the many benefits of working with nature.
We, at Nature Benefits organise group walks and camps in nature. Walks vary in landscape and fitness levels. Our first nature camp is on October 21st to 23rd and you can find further details on our events page.
Warm Wishes,
Catherine
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