Hug a tree. A friend told me about a doctor who prescribed ‘hugging trees’ as a way to treat mental illness and anxiety. His patients really did feel better after going on walks and literally hugging trees. In a recent article in The Atlantic called How to Harness Nature’s Healing Power Florence Williams the author of a new book called The Nature Fix says there is a growing body of scientific research to show just how good spending time in nature is for your brain and your body. It comes at a time however when people are spending less and less time outside.
According to Williams children of my generation spent 70% of our play time outdoors. Now most children spend 70% of their play time indoors and most adults spend 87% of their waking hours indoors. Williams urges everyone to get outside into nature as often as we can. An article in Business Insider gives scientific reasons why this is so important.
Research shows being out in nature sharpens your short-term memory, improves your vision, reduces stress and restores mental energy. It can help you think more creatively.
Spending time in nature will make you live longer, boost your immune system, reduce your chance of getting cancer and improve your mental health and powers of concentration.
Many cities are realizing the importance of people spending time in nature and are being deliberate about creating and maintaining green spaces in urban environments. This is necessary because otherwise spending time in nature will only be available to people wealthy enough to leave the cities in which they live and get out into nature. One of the things that really surprised us when we lived in Hong Kong was how much government protected green space there was for people to enjoy.
I live in the heart of downtown Winnipeg but there is a beautiful park right at the end of my street which runs along the river. I have no excuse not to go outside and go often!