We are social beings. We like to be around other people. It is good for our health and it is known that people who socialize live longer. There are many places in which we interact with out friends and family and one of the best places is in the great outdoors.
The article in the Dec. 28 issue of the Wall Street Journal, “Making 2011 The Year of Great Relationships” by Elizabeth Bernstein indicates that being outdoors relieves stress. We know that access to nature helps us heal sooner, so, why not enjoy that next conversation outside. Combining the healing powers of nature with a walk in the park, a bike ride or even a sleigh ride in the snow will make us feel better overall.
Roger Ulrich, Ph.D. has defined nature as a ‘positive distraction’. Nature has the ability to help us focus and can improve our concentration. We can help reduce the distractions by turning off the cell phone, i-pod and other electronic devices. The sounds of nature will produce the soundtrack for the social break. Spending more time outdoors with others in 2011 will be one the best things we can do to begin the new year.
A link to the article can be found at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203731004576045721718177728.html?KEYWORDS=making+2011+the+year+of+great+relationshipsRead more
Winter began, yesterday, December 21st. This seasonal benchmark means less time during the day light hours to accomplish our tasks. The day may seem to fly by when we focus on work, holiday preparations and our everyday activities. However, we may pass up our interaction with nature.
The shorter days translate into less daylight and earlier sunsets. This can cause us to be more interiorly focused. (A good book, a hot cup of tea and an easy chair can be very tempting.) However, we need to continue to get outside to help balance our circadian rhythms and produce melatonin. This will help offset feelings of tiredness, inactivity and malaise.
A recent study validates our need to walk for health and well-being. Jody Rosenblatt Naderi and Barani Raman have measured perceptions of people who walk for health purposes and determined the variables of the environment (weather, sound, water, light and other factors) that affect the decisions where to walk. The study “Capturing impressions of pedestrian landscapes used for healing purposes with decision tree learning” begins to look at how walking conditions and health are directly related.
So, be sure to take walks, even if they are shorter than normal during the winter season. Find a friend to walk with you to keep you company and help encourage you on. And, know that the research is helping to validate what we know to be true. Our mother was right. Playing (and walking) outside is good for us.
The research is validating what we instinctively know to be true – that spending time outside makes us feel better. Taking a walk, gardening, fishing, bike riding and other activities can elevate our moods and we have a better felling about our quality of life. The surprising fact is that this benefit can occur in as little as five minutes!
Researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed data collected from over 1,200 people of all ages, genders and mental health status and were able to show that activity in nature settings improved mental and physical health. The researchers, Jules Pretty and Jo Barton, Ph.D. indicated that activity in nature decreases the risk of mental illness and improves the sense of well-being. “Just 5 minutes of exercise in a green nature setting can boost mood and self-esteem.”
So, be sure to get outside. Especially this time of year, as we retreat indoors for the winter season. Spending time in the garden doing some end of year chores or possibly getting ready for the spring season are important – for us as well as the garden. Maybe it means taking a walk on a sunny day to get that dose of Vitamin D and limit the effects of seasonal affected disorder. What ever the reason – be sure to maintain your connection with nature by getting outside.
The article can be found in Science Daily – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100502080414.htm)Read more
Reading a recent article “Taking Tree-Hugging to New Heights” by Benjamin Percy in the Wall Street Journal (10-16-10), I cannot help but think that this childhood sport will only continue to grow. The article describes the tree climbing program in Eugene, Oregon where you can not only climb trees but spend the night. As the article so aptly puts it “tree climbing has become a vacation destination due to some childish nostalgia, eco-awareness and an appreciation of spider-like thrill of swinging from ropes.”
The mind wanders to the Boomers and how they are helping to fuel this and other eco-pursuits. The idea of climbing trees, in this context, is meant more for the adventure of the sport as well as to be able to re-live childhood activities. We can expect to see more of these things “nature pursuits” being incorporated into all kinds of programs as the Boomers move closer to more free time and disposable income. The Morris Arboretum recently opened the “Out on a Limb’ exhibit in which you can spend time elevated in the trees high above the ground – www.morrisarboretum.org
If you want to attract more of the environmentally conscious older adults, consider incorporating, not just tree climbing activities. How about a big tree house that you can actually spend time in and spend the night in? Maybe the grand kids will want to visit and have a sleep over with you in the tree house. We need to explore the ways in which we can create environments that enable people to get closer to and be a part of nature.
Some sites to visit include pacifictreeclimbing.com for information on tree climbing adventures in the US. If you have been yearning to stay overnight in a tree house, visit www.treehotel.se to see where you can sleep up in the trees. To read more from the article in the WSJ, visit http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467004575464073401007574.html?mod=WSJ_ArtsEnt_TravelRead more
The question of why we are attracted to water may be a bit obvious for some. However, we all too often take water for granted. It is, for the most part, easily accessible and abundant. We are connected to water in so many ways. In fact, we are as humans on average 75 percent water. The earths surface is 70 percent water. This investigation of why we are attracted to water is, in part, preparation for an upcoming presentation on water and horticultural therapy.
We ARE attracted to water, that is obvious. Whether it is a lake, ocean or a man made water feature, we feel compelled to interact on some level. All of our senses are heightened and respond in different ways. The smell of ozone when it rains or the melodic sounds of waves crashing on the beach are just a few of the reactions water elicits. Who is not interested in a water pistol fight on a hot summer’s day. Watch children (and those still young at heart) who cannot resist playing in a fountain.
A preliminary search of current literature and research findings indicate that there are emotional responses caused when water touches our skin, much like someone holding our hand. When someone holds our hand, the brain releases the hormone Oxytocin, which promotes a feeling of devotion and trust. The Orbital Front Cortex of the brain responds to sweet tastes and pleasant odors. The smell of the air when it begins to rain or the salt spray from the ocean can trigger a positive emotional response.
The next time you pass a water fountain in a park or shopping mall, stop and pay attention. How does it make you feel? What are the reactions experienced by others. Do you or others have a tendency to touch the water. Does the sound of the running water as it splashes onto the hard surface make you slow down and watch? Your blood pressure should be reduced and hopefully a sense of calm may be present, even for a short while. Begin to make a mental note of these reactions.Read more