Nature Heals

Nature Heals

21 May 2019

Put down the Prozac and pick up your walking shoes! Absurd? Not really. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that nature is fundamentally important to our health, wellbeing, and happiness.

A group of healthcare professionals are prescribing walks in nature to their patients as part of the “Nature Prescription” program aimed at improving patients’ health and happiness. Thereby also lowering blood pressure and reducing heart disease and strokes.

Yup, at his office in Washington, DC, Dr Robert Zarr is part of a small group of doctors who actually writes prescriptions for parks! Say what now? Yes, instead of prescribing medicine, he scribbles instructions which park his obese, anxious, or depressed patients should visit.

We know, we know, many of us yearn for some time in nature, just to have a break from our mundane 9-to-5 jobs. It’s right there, on the other side of the windowpane, so close that you can almost smell the crisp, cool air… but we are shackled to our desks. Not so easy, right? Also, if you think about it, around 55% of the world’s population live in urban areas (scientists predict that by 2050 it will be around 68%!) with very little nature surrounding us.

As our lives get busier and walks in nature are harder to find, many businesses have started to change the nature of their indoor landscapes. Have you noticed an increase in vertical plant walls beautifying more and more office walls? Smart, active green walls are one example of how companies are embracing this way of thinking. Thing is, green walls not only work to purify the air we breathe, but can also help to reduce stress and foster a connection to the outside word.

Truth is, environments can increase or reduce stress, which in turn impacts our bodies. What you’re seeing, hearing and experiencing at any moment changes not only your mood, but also how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems work. Research done in hospitals, offices and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.

So, yes, of course we have a few creative ideas on how to be closer to nature as you rush from one place to the other! First of all, make it a priority to spend 20 minutes outside every day. Have your morning coffee outside, not kidding, it can be done. Suggest walking meetings to your boss. If the meeting doesn’t require special equipment; that’s thinking outside the box, right? Have your lunch on a bench outside the office, take your shoes off and put your feet on the grass, just for a few minutes. Also, next time you wait in line for coffee, turn your face to the sun and soak up the vitamin D. And, maybe on weekends, get involved with a local hiking troupe or volunteer your services at a community garden.

Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle, talks about “nature-deficit disorder” and that the cure may be a simple walk.

The world is unlikely to slow down any time soon. So, head outdoors, find the balance that exists in nature and let it offer you its intrinsic gifts.

It doesn’t cost anything, but the benefits are priceless.


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

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