Guest Author - Aimee Wood
The way our society is organized, we have gotten away from being in nature. Getting outside benefits our immune system, our happiness, and our overall well being. No matter where you live, getting into nature should be a daily occurrence.
Being in nature can be considered a form of medicine. Those practicing Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine consider it a treatment for many ailments. Some refer to it as "nature therapy". The Japanese call it "shinrin-yoku" which means basking in the forest or forest bathing. Roger Ulrich, a leading researcher on the subject of healing gardens states, "We have a kind of biologically prepared disposition to respond favorably to nature because we evolved in nature. Nature was good to us, and we tend to respond positively to environments that were favorable to us." Ulrich has produced many scientific studies that have shown the benefits, although many of us know instinctively that being in nature can be healing. Many hospitals around the country have created healing gardens for their patients. Healing gardens and being in nature have been shown to:
1, Reduce stress and anxiety by promoting serenity and wellbeing. Spending time in nature allows one to be in the moment. The power of being in the moment can cause a person to slow down and breathe in the freshness of nature. Among the benefits are lowered blood pressure and cortisol levels.
2. Being in nature promotes physical activity. Generally, taking nature walks or hikes on trails, suburban sidewalks, or even on the beach, causes one to get the body moving. Taking extra steps each day has been shown to be beneficial to one's health.
There are actions you can take on a daily basis to make sure you are getting in enough nature. Obviously, getting outside on hikes and walks can benefit one tremendously. Enjoying a view of nature from your window can also be beneficial if you are housebound or the weather is too extreme. Also, having plants in your house can give you benefits. Placing a few plants in each room can greatly increase the positive energy.
Ideally having green space or a place to hike near your home has its advantages. It makes it more likely you will get out to enjoy nature on a daily basis. You could also do a google search by typing in local parks, trails, and green spaces. In addition, The National Park Service maintains a National Trail System at http://www.nps.gov/nts/. Also, the American Hiking Society can be found at: http://www.americanhiking.org/. To walk a healing labyrinth, go to: http://labyrinthlocator.com/.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from spending some time in nature, viewing nature, or bringing nature indoors. Doing so reduces stress and anxiety and offers some great physical benefits. Find an area in your town and make it a daily habit to get outside.