Coronavirus lockdown find reliefs in nature

At a time when so many of us are facing a heightened sense of threat as well as deep worries about our future, can nature lift our spirits?

“Our current crisis has switched us out of normal existence and into survival mode,”
“We no longer see ourselves as quite so immortal.”

Modern life is very hectic, and many of us feel completely overwhelmed. We often feel self-critical, ineffective and hopeless about ever being able to change our situation.

x

Mindfully connecting with nature, even in the midst of a city, is one of the best ways to reduce stress and overwhelm and dramatically shift your mental and emotional state. Even just a few minutes can help you feel calmer and better able to address the often stressful tasks of daily life.

With far more people unable to work, or working from home, many have been inspired to explore nature in their neighbourhood as they refocus on their immediate surroundings.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein
Outside Inside

Borders are blurring between indoors and out as nature becomes more important in our lives. Many people want their gardens and their homes to be sanctuaries of tranquillity reflecting their ideal concept of nature. Beauty and sustainability are key, the ‘beauty and romance’ of a garden with less work. ‘ Urban gardeners want easy low maintenance plants that give plenty colors. Decorating our inner gardens with houseplants for better, healthier lives are now the new norm.

Ferns, snake plants, palms, peace lilies bring nature in and green up your spaces for a better and healthier you. Plants like long-blooming orchids are adorning desks in offices and improving the beauty and health of the environment while increasing productivity, no fuss cacti and succulents are ideal for gardeners who seek attractive, low maintenance plants, tiny easy to grow succulents in bold containers bring nature inside the home.

x

Trees, flowers, plants, birds and bees all increase overall health and wellness for self, society and the planet. Plants are clean air filters, oxygen machines and wellness prescriptions. Trees absorb 1/5 of carbon emissions, reduce electricity consumption and increase mental health.

While the impact of experiencing nature on our physical health is less well documented, a wealth of studies have demonstrated the positive effects of the natural world on our mental health.

Connecting with nature can help us feel happier and more energised, with an increased sense of meaning and purpose, as well as making tasks seem more manageable.

Why does nature have such a positive effect?
Part of nature’s power lies in its ability to wash away whatever is provoking a lot of our stress.

Slow movements such as the ripples of water or clouds moving across the sky place effortless demands on our working memory but enough to distract us from spiralling rumination, self-blame and hopelessness.

x

Researchers call this capacity to hold our attention to the “soft fascination” of nature.

Tending to a plant helps us to appreciate the power we have to nurture, and gives us a sense of achievement when the plant flourishes, which is particularly important for those struggling with their mental health.

In late March, the United Nations published the 2020 World Happiness Report, a comprehensive look at what makes the most contented countries work so well. For the seventh year in a row, the Nordic nations of Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden dominated the top ten. While rankings are based on several factors, including political rights and economic equality, these countries have a few key metrics in common: low corruption rates, universal public services, and great access to the outdoors. 

x


Scandinavian friluftsliv

For many of these countries, not only is nature within easy reach, but it’s an important part of their cultures. For the Scandinavian nations that take up six of the top-ten spots, the term friluftsliv, which literally translates to “open-air living,” denotes “a philosophical lifestyle based on experiences of the freedom in nature and the spiritual connectedness with the landscape,” according to “Friluftsliv: The Scandinavian Philosophy of Outdoor Life.” 

While the impact of experiencing nature on our physical health is less well documented, a wealth of studies have demonstrated the positive effects of the natural world on our mental health.

Even a brief nature fix – 10 minutes of wind brushing across our cheek, or the sun on our skin – can lower stress.

If we immerse ourselves in beautiful landscapes, like a rich coastline or a wild forest teeming with an array of species, we feel more intense emotions.

Connecting with nature can help us feel happier and more energised, with an increased sense of meaning and purpose, as well as making tasks seem more manageable.

x

Dr Gretchen C Daily from Stanford University, in the US, uses this evidence to help the World Bank and city governments around the world develop policies to integrate the natural environment into our urban landscapes.

Nature-based activities: gardening and farming
Gardening and farming have been used as part of mental health treatments around the world for centuries.

GPs in the Western World have been prescribing Eco-therapy; nature experiences for patients with depression and anxiety. These include a healthy walk or planting seeds to nurture and grow.

Shinrin Yoku (Japanese Forest Bathing)
Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Now their research is helping to establish shinrin-yoku and forest therapy throughout the world.

x

Some evidence-based health benefits include:
• Lower blood pressure and heart rate

• Increased immune functioning

• Decreased depression and anxiety symptoms

• Increased sleep, energy levels and vitality

• Increased sense of connection, gratitude and wonder

•Decreased cortisol levels aiding in stress management

•Increased blood circulation, especially in areas of the brain that include a focus

The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved. Forest therapy approaches such as Shinrin-yoku have roots in many cultures throughout history.

x

John Muir wrote, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains or forest is going home.” Wilderness is a necessity”
Tips to experience more nature

Pay regular visits to a tree near where you live to see changes to the leaves, blossoms or seeds. Do particular birds visit? Does its bark host lichen, moss or insects?

Open a window to catch the sounds of leaves or scent of fresh rain.

Walk first thing in the morning, or before sunset, when the warm colours and low angle of light highlight the textures of the natural world, including tree trunks and leaves.

Plant seeds, using ones you find in fruit or near trees if you can’t get hold of a packet. Bean sprouts grow quickly on kitchen paper, without soil or a pot.

x

Think of nature when you are cooking, savouring the bright colours and tart flavours of fruits. When you inhale your morning coffee, imagine the rainforest birds that help cross-pollinate coffee plants.

Gardening
Goes hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle. People see both outdoor and indoor space as extensions of themselves and are making conscious efforts to use plants and garden products as ‘tools’ to increase their overall well being, lead a sustainable lifestyle and make a positive impact on their communities and the planet.

For more and more gardeners, health is a top priority; the people are not just gardening for beauty, to nourish their communities, for the environment, but for their own well being.

Going back to nature and various gardening activities can provide needed reliefs to the coronavirus threat and to give us hope for the future.

x
Receive News Alerts on Whatsapp: +2348136370421


No comments yet

Related