Ahh… the pleasure of being surrounded by nature. Have you noticed that when you enter a beautiful garden or walk near a lake or forest your mood improves and body relaxes? Connecting with nature on a daily basis can greatly improve our wellbeing, however many people don’t take the time to enjoy it.
“Parks and other natural environments are a fundamental health resource, particularly in terms of disease prevention” (Maller et al. 2008). Researchers are demonstrating the positive effects of nature on blood pressure, cholesterol, outlook on life, and stress reduction. It has also proven beneficial to those with attention deficit disorder (Kuo and Taylor 2004).
Spending time in nature also has been linked to longevity and decreased risk of mental illness in studies in Scandinavia and the Netherlands (De Vries et al. 2003, Grahn and Stigsdotter 2003). Health benefits of nature may also have relevance to injury prevention and control, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, musculoskeletal conditions, and other maladies, including cancer (Li 2009).
Spring’s beauty is here! Do your body and mind a favor, make some
time and enjoy the beauty and wonders of nature. The next time you are outdoors, I encourage you to take a moment to enjoy nature by breathing in deeply. Focus on all your senses to help quiet your mind and re-energize your spirit; see all the different colors around you, smell the sweetness of a flowering tree, feel the wind and sun on your face, hear the song birds sing, walk barefoot in the grass, etc.
For those of us in the Greendale area, we are fortunate to have many locations nearby to enhance our nature experience. We can take a walk around Scout Lake, Boerner Botanical gardens, Whitnall Park Nature Center, Root River Parkway (and many other parkways), shores of Lake Michigan, and even the Domes on rainy days.
If you are unable to be outdoors due to health limitations, I encourage you to open a window in your home and look outside, or close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and imagine yourself in nature. In your imagination, take notice of the colors around you, take a deep breath and imagine yourself smelling a beautiful flower, listen for the song birds, etc. You can also bring nature indoors by surrounding yourself with flowers and indoor plants.
When we stop to enjoy what nature has to offer we give our body and mind a gift. Give yourself a gift today! Stop and enjoy this beautiful spring. Enjoy!
Maller, C.; Townsend, M.; St. Leger, L.; et al. 2008. Healthy parks, healthy people: the health benefits of contact with nature in a park context. Melbourne, Australia: Deakin University and Parks Victoria.
Kuo, F.; Taylor, A. 2004. A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health. 94(9): 1580–1586.
Li, Q. 2009. Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine. 15(1): 9–17.
De Vries, S.; Verheij, R.; Groenewegen, H.; Spreeuwenberg, P.
2003. Natural environments—healthy environments? An exploratory analysis of the relationship between green space and health. Environment and Planning. 35(10): 1717–1731.\
Grahn, P.; Stigsdotter, U.A. 2003. Landscape planning and stress.
Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. 2: 1–18.