It has been said that “Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to our mental and physical wellbeing.”
For 30 years I lived in country Victoria where, after taking a short (200 m) walk, I was in the midst of a red gum forest. I walked in the forest almost every day and it gave me a sense of peace.
Earlier in my life, there were two years when an old farmhouse on the edge of a river was my home. At the time I had a stressful teaching position and, on returning from a day at school, I would often stroll down to the river, slowly breathe in the air and look at what nature provided. Once back at the house, I would feel rejuvenated and many of the day’s troubles would have been mentally solved or simply melted away.
There is a word: ‘Biophilia’, which Harvard naturalist Dr. Edward O. Wilson sees as “humanity's innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes, and to be drawn toward nature”.
I tend to agree. We NEED nature and being immersed in nature brings rewards.
There is much research on subjects about benefits of spending time with nature—or surrounding yourself within a nature-based experience.
“A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing” (from Yale School of the Environment, 2020).
During my lifetime—whenever and wherever—I have tried to often be “immersed in nature” and I truly believe in the benefits to health and ‘well-being’…both mentally and physically.
The realisation that there are so very many people—especially kids—who are unable to have this experience is a sobering thought.
I wonder how many city kids have never been in a forest. How many people have never experienced walking along a beach?
How many city dwellers have never seen an eagle in flight?
I am quite familiar with the sight of wedge tailed eagles, having lived in Gippsland for many years. But, about 20 years ago, when travelling between Bowen and Townsville, the sight of numerous eagles and hawks soaring in a glorious blue sky was amazing. These magnificent birds, possibly scanning newly harvested sugar cane fields, looking for tasty morsels of small edible creatures provided a sense of awe. Another way of ‘drawing towards nature’, another different ‘Biophilia’ experience, with accompanying benefits.
Recent articles have appeared about an experience called “Forest bathing”, which is a Japanese practice inducing relaxation. It’s a simple method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees. (There is no bath involved!). Participants claim that by observing and being in nature, especially within forest surroundings—while breathing deeply— can help de-stress and boost health and well-being in a natural way.
Too much to ask, but…all cities should endeavour to make available exposure to trees, gardens and native wild birds at least.
There is a current trend to use a form of biophilia in office buildings and homes to help create that elusive notion of “well-being”. It seems mainly to do with including indoor plants. I wonder if it works.
Look up “biophilia” and “forest bathing” and give it a try!
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.