Naturefor mind and soul
When was the last time you saw a little butterfly gently flapping its wings, fluttering from one branch to another, sipping nectar?
Do you listen to the song of birds? Butterflies, birds, trees, leaves and greenery more seem like a dream and a thing of past in human lives. In the world of today, where the human mind, body and soul is so connected with indoor life, be it at office, school
or working out in an artificial environment such as gym, nature seldom plays any role in our daily lives. Is that a reason why stress, depression and psychological problems are on a rise today? The solutions for these problems are easy though - in nature’s
way. John Muir and Henry David Thoreau wrote about the benefits of spending time in theAmerican wilderness in the 19th century which led to the establishment of the first national parks.
Scientists and environmental psychologists talk about how nature can have a great impact on the ‘minds’ of people. An
article in Environmental Science & Technology states finding from a study that just five minutes ofexercising in a green environment will impact the mental health of an individual.
Five minutes of the newly coined term ‘green exercising’ can boost one’s self-esteem. The authors of this study were able to scientifically prove that activities relating to nature such as, cycling, fishing, gardening, walking or even farming in natural settings
contributed to the mental well-being of an individual.
Though people from all ages benefited from being with nature, people who specifically suffered from mental illness were able
to witness some positive changes. Also, walking in green environment helps in improving concentration abilities among children and in some cases, this has proven to be more effective than medication. Today, education psychology also discusses the importance
of nature and their exposure to one’shealth. Also referred to as ‘restorative environments', green space helps people’s mental functioning and social relationships. Environmental psychologists have emphasized that nature restores attention and mental focus
and also helps in recovering from mental fatigue.
Studies reveal that office workers with a view of nature liked the jobs more,
had better health and reported greater life satisfaction. Even a glimpse of nature outside a classroom window would lead to similar benefits in school children.
Let us give an example here. A study was conducted to establish a direct connection with nature and the ability to recover from
psychological stress. A forty five minute task was given to some randomly chosen participants. This was to exhaust their attention levels. After the stipulated time, some participants were asked
to walk in a local nature preserve. Some others read a book and some walked in the urban area. People who walked in the nature preserve performed better than others on a standardized proof reading task. They also reported more positive feelings and less
Children suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder have a better focus after outdoor activities like fishing, hiking,
and sports, in comparison to children watching television and playing video games.
A recent study from UK found that more than 75% of people who live in urban
areas, are facing drastic mental health problems, and this is a result of detachment with nature. Roger Ulrich, a researcher conducted an experiment to explain that patients suffering and recovering from identical operations were more likely to recover quickly
if they had a daily view of nature from their hospital beds.
According to research from Netherlands and Japan, people living close to
green spaces live longer and enjoy better and healthy life. Another Swedish study says that if employees could view greenery through their office windows, it significantly reduced the stress during their working days.The
psychological value of open spaces in particular has been acknowledged from along time.
According to findings from the green exercise, experience in wilderness leads to people learning to respect other people and
nature. Wilderness trails also leads to changes within one’spersonality. People become more humble and a part of nature. A sense of simplicity, reduction in mind chatter, openness and affability, self-motivation, and self-determination are some qualities
which are developed when people are exposed to wilderness.
It’s time for urban souls to reconnect to nature, to feel and live and bond with the environment to absorb the energy and positivity
that it can give. It can change a day and an entire life!
SharadaBalasubramanian is a journalist, writer, nature lover and a wanderer. She has been writing on environment
and wildlife, green energy, business, travel, social issues, social entrepreneurs, to name some. She works with wildlife scientists to know and understand the issues of wildlife and has many articles to her credit. She maintains a blog calledwildlifemusings.wordpress.com.