- Healing through Contact with Nature
In our world today, large numbers of people live in urban areas where they often have little contact with nature in their daily lives. Many people do not even have a back yard they can go out into so they can walk barefoot in the grass. Surrounded all the time by concrete, electromagnetic fields, and technology, people often feel isolated, have their health impacted negatively by lack of sunshine and breathing stale indoor air, feel their stress levels mounting with little they think can be done about it, and feel disconnected from the real world of nature.
Over 100 research studies show that one of the perceived benefits of wilderness recreation is stress reduction. In one particular study, participants were shown a stressful video, such as one showing industrial accidents, and immediately afterward were shown a nature video. Those who viewed the nature video showed faster recovery from effects of the stressful video than those who had no contact with nature.
Another study showed that patients in a hospital recovered faster from surgery if they had a window with a nature view.
Employees report more job satisfaction and fewer headaches if they have a window with a nature view.
Patients in hospitals benefit from visits with pets. Children who had visits from pets began to focus on getting better rather than on their illnesses. The survival rate of coronary patients who own pets is better than those who don't. Pets lower blood pressure and hasten the healing response.
Interacting with nature often gives people a perspective they lack in their everyday life. It makes them feel that they are a part of a larger system connecting beyond the individual. Being in contact with nature also allows people to partake of a sensory experience often lacking contemporary urban life. Whereas many of us spend our lives sitting behind desks and computers, getting eyestrain, neck and back pain, and headaches, being in nature allows us to get away from the cramped working conditions which we are exposed to every day, get the expansive feeling that only the wide open spaces can give, smell the scents of nature, feel the wind and rain, hear real running water, observe animals in their natural habitats, and much more.
Try this exercise: How many sounds, scents, and tactile experiences can you name that you could experience in nature?
Whatever number you come up with, there is bound to be more you haven't thought of.
Most importantly, being in nature gets you away from the social conformity of society because nature expects nothing of you. In nature, you get to be whatever you are.
In short, a summary of the benefits would be:
1. Breathe clean air
2. Get plenty of sunshine and by extension, plenty of Vitamin D
3. Get away from electromagnetic fields.
4. Get more exercise.
5. Get away from loud noise.
6. Experience the vivid colors of nature
7. Experience a variety of tactile sensations
8. Experience feeling connected to a system larger than yourself
9. Get perspective on your daily problems
In Short, being out in nature is a feast for the soul.
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Copyright 2006-13 Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living
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