Ever wonder why you suddenly feel happier when you stand next to a waterfall, walk through a forest, or see ocean waves crashing onto the beach? Well, that goofy grin on your face is no accident, our brains are hardwired to admire nature, and we get physical and mental benefits from it that go far beyond the time we are spend outdoors. There is fascinating research to prove this, all laid out for easy reading in: Your Brain On Nature: The Science of Nature's Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality by Eva M. Selhub, MD, and Alan C. Logan, ND.
Studies now conclusively prove that just being able to see green trees through a window (vs. a view of other buildings) helps make:
Students retain more knowledge;
Hospital patients recover quicker (and use less pain medication);
Jail inmates get in less fights;
and Office workers more productive.
Just a view of nature can do this!
So while seeing trees from inside a building is a good start, even better would be to get out into the wilderness more often. But even for urbanites there are small ways to do this, which include; adding plants to the office or home, getting a pet, gardening, escaping to a park for lunchtime walks, eating healthy fresh foods, minimizing screen time (TV, video games and computers), and/or using aromatherapy. Something is definitely better than nothing in this case!
Intensive use of nature for people with health issues has also proven to be more beneficial than prescription drugs. In fact, nature has proven to be such a health benefit that some doctors are now writing prescriptions for Vitamin G(green). In other words, a prescription to go for walks out in in the woods! This remedy has been positively used for people with all sorts of health problems, including stress, depression, and anger issues.
I highly recommend this fascinating book. It is easy to read, easy to understand, yet speaks strongly to anyone who finds themselves relying more and more on technology, but less and less content with the results. The book presents facts about our growing reliance on technology as a troubling issue, yet lays out options to combat our changing world in a way that is hopeful, rather than negative.
So go ahead, push back from whatever screen you are reading this on, and head outside for a walk in the woods. It will do your brain good.
I'll see you out there.