‘Travel and Leisure’ magazine tells us researchers at the University of Oregon found that living close to protected lands — national parks, nature reserves, wilderness areas — had a positive impact on health.
There’s lots of talk about the importance of a healthy diet, exercise, and work-life balance to maintain well-being, but not much is said about the value of living close to protected lands. Researchers from the University of Regina have found that spending just five minutes in nature can quickly improve your mood.
In a study published in the Journal of Positive, researchers found that participants who spent just five minutes sitting in nature experienced an increase in positive emotions. When it came to self-transcendent emotions, those in the outdoor setting experienced a greater increase than those inside.
“There are two important take-homes; the first I emphasize to all my students these days — when you need an emotional boost, the fastest and easiest way is to spend a few minutes with nature,” one of the study’s authors, Katherine D. Arbuthnott, noted that being outside is the best option, but looking at photos of natural scenes can also help. “The second is that, since contact with nature is so beneficial to our emotional health, preserving our local natural spaces is an important public health goal,” she added.
The Japanese and go take a bath in the forest. But this bath doesn’t involve any water. Since the 1980s, wellness and nature enthusiasts in Japan have turned to a practice called “forest bathing” (or shinrin-yoku in Japanese).
A forest bath is quality time spent among the trees with no distractions. There’s a no end destination like on a hike, or a specific type of tree to seek out. All would-be forest bathers need to do is break from all outside distractions (no cell phones allowed) and take in the surrounding forest. Consider it meditation in nature—without any of the concentration or discipline necessary for meditation. In fact, the most important rule for taking a forest bath is no effort.
Over the last several years, researchers have overwhelmingly confirmed that being in nature is good for one’s mental and physical health. New research has found that being in nature actually boosts the immune system. Being in nature to taking a multivitamin that provides us with all the nutrients our bodies need to simultaneously protect us from all types of physical and mental ailments. On the contrary, living in an area with little green space is tied to higher risk of disease, including depression and anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cancer, diabetes, and so much more.
Photo courtesy of Bing via outwardon.com