Health Benefits of Nature: A non-Prescription Elixir
by Bongs Lainjo
Are Naturalists made or born?
When I was growing up, I had the opportunity to go to a public elementary school and unlike many such institutions, my school had a farm – orchard with fruits, and even a ranch! I spent most of my free time there hanging out with my friends. We all had the chance to escape from the parental demands, had our hide and seek events and above all, enjoyed the garden.
During this period, pupils in this school, after a certain age, were qualified to take the cattle out for grazing: an event that permitted us to go up the hills with our cattle. When it was my turn, I often had sleepless nights the day before. Couldn’t wait to be out there!
After high school, I also had opportunities to advance my education in several fields. I chose to take a course as a survey technician; again another opportunity to be outside. This was indeed one-in-a-lifetime experience and even up till this day, I continue to miss that experience.
A few days ago, i was chatting with Dave, one of my neighbors. During this conversation, one issue that came up was the CVE, its uniqueness and ecosystem. We are both impressed (and I’m sure others too) by the ingenuity and vision of the designers of this village. The ecosystem – birds, trees (storm damage notwithstanding), the creeks, etc. have collectively provided us with a “natural” habitat that gives many of us sun birds a compelling reason to head down south during the unfavorable weather conditions up north. In fact in Quebec, studies have confirmed that heart attacks, especially while shoveling during snowstorms, are more prevalent during the winter season!
And the urge for nature and its benefits is not only limited to these cases. For example (a case I know best) in Canada, where many people own and believe in their cottages, scramming when possible to the country side is quite common. Try to visit someone in Ontario during the summer months. They are all in their hideouts or cottages as we call them. What is the motivation? A love for nature and an opportunity to escape from the inner cities and their rat-rushes! I’m sure the same obsession applies to many US cities too. Last year, I had an opportunity to visit Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Rushmore, Joshua and Death Valley National Parks. The crowds in many of these parks were compelling evidence of how we appreciate the importance and benefits of exploring the wilderness!
Nature is our best friend. As little as 10 minutes in the woods can refresh us, increase cortisol levels and release tension and stress hormones. Researchers in England show that green spaces help reduce mental health disparities that arise from problems at work. Here we have provided at least two instances when nature “made me feel better”, one was during the school’s farm sessions and the other during my occasional escapades with friends to the cottage in Canadian summers.
I am a huge fan of walking outdoors and getting all of the Vitamin D possible. I am also a nature lover, I believe in the benefits to the human body, mind and soul. Maybe it’s the way the woods smell, or the wind as it caresses my neck and uplifts my spirits. Or, maybe it is just the fact that I feel free as I roam through and touch the trees, smell the roses, and embrace the beauty of nature.
The breeze is my favorite, especially when it’s warm and calm. The water waves are also beautiful as they hit each other, make splash and leave in awe at how beautiful they are. The smell of the beach is mesmerizing and the sight of a beautiful sunset is calming. I believe that nature can really help us heal, restore our energy, provide us with some motivation, relieve our stress, and make us happy.
In a NY Times book review of “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier and More Creative”, by Florence Williams March 5, 2017, Jason Mark outlined the author’s analysis of how researchers in England have demonstrated the benefits of nature including improved learning abilities, mitigating financial health disparities etc.
Details of the review are available on: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/books/review/nature-fix-florence-williams.html?_r=0
And to those naturalists (made or born) keep up the efforts!