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  • Writer's pictureHelen

How Nature Can Be Medicine

Updated: Feb 28

I find that nature can help me get out of my head, if I am feeling like I'm ruminating or overwhelmed.

Just going for a walk can calm me and put things in perspective, this coupled with beautiful scenery can make all the difference. Not long ago I did a 'Forest Bathing' workshop in Ampthill park and it was 3 hours of bliss. Mindfulness coupled with walking and just immersing myself in nature.


Research has shown how woods can increase our physical health, mental wellbeing and quality of life. In fact trials of ‘green prescriptions’ are underway around the UK, with GPs encouraging patients to take exercise in nature. Lots of research provides evidence that woods benefit our health. Studies have shown that patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster and with fewer complications. In fact, the positive impact from looking at natural scenery is so great, that even pictures of landscapes can help reduce anxiety and lower pain levels. 


Children and adults with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Being near trees helps our concentration by reducing mental fatigue. One study discovered that a forest stroll had beneficial effects on blood pressure, heart rate and the immune system.


Information about the importance of nature to our mental and physical wellbeing started to emerge on a global stage when shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) was introduced as part of a public health programme in Japan in 1982. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries coined the phrase and turned a mindful nature walk into a national pastime; one that would enhance health and happiness when participants opened all five senses to their surroundings, breathed deeply and walked thoughtfully. Japanese studies into the psychological and physiological advantages of this have uncovered positive effects on immunity, blood pressure and stress levels that could last up to a month after each ‘bath’ in the woods.


References:



11 must-know facts about woods and forests in the UK  https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2018/04/woods-forests-facts/

Epub 2019 Apr 18. Effects of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) on levels of cortisol as a stress biomarker: a systematic review and meta-analysis 

How hospital gardens help patients heal 

How Green Space Helps ADHD Symptoms

 Why walking in woods is good for you

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