A Prescription from Nature – Take 17 mins & call me in the morning

A Prescription from Nature – Take 17 mins & call me in the morning

Image by _mequable from Pixabay

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks".

John Muir - Naturalist

My partner and I take regular breaks away, it’s what we do for self-care. We hit the road; the city disappears into the rear-view mirror as we venture into the bush.  While we drive, I find myself taking a huge breath, and releasing an even bigger sigh. The city is not the only thing disappearing as I feel the tension leaves my body. 

We reach our campsite, and I go for a walk in nature, my mind calms, my body relaxes, and my breathing deepens.

Image by Valentin from Pixabay

Did you know that time in nature can improve your well-being, increase energy levels, motivate you, and improve emotional regulation? (Chowdhury, 2019). Moments in nature can also increase our joy in life, sense of purpose and connection also helping to reduce the level of cortisol in your system (Houlden et al., 2018). 

I would come back from being away, with renewed energy and the capacity to face the challenges in my week. I thought it was just being away, but it was actually being in greenspace. 

If the idea of connecting with nature and reaping its benefits appeals to you, you could take up Forest Bathing also known as Shinrin-Yoku. Research has shown the benefits of forest bathing are both physical and psychological, it can improve digestion and respiration, reduce depression and fatigue and improve your concentration (Balmumcu & Pekince, 2023). 

Not only does it make you feel better it can assist in fighting diseases including cancer, diabetes high blood pressure, and respiratory disease, as it boosts immunity and regulates the body (Wen, et al., 2019).

Many of our government and non-government organisations in Australia are recognising the benefits, including National Parks VictoriaEnvironment SANational Parks Association of NSW, and WA Parks Foundation. You only have to do a Google search and you will find recommendations on where to go to forest bathe and even guide-led forest experiences.

But you don’t need a forest guide to start you on this journey. National Parks Victoria has some tips for starting to forest bathe:

  • Disconnect from technology, put your phone on silent, or turn it off
  • Take some deep breaths, tune into your body and surroundings
  • Focus on being present with nature and take your time
  • Explore using your senses, what is around you, what can you see, hear, smell, and feel.

In your busy world finding time to spend in nature might seem like yet another thing to add to your already overflowing schedule. But here is the amazing thing, for this prescription for improving wellbeing to make a difference in your life all you need is a minimum of one hundred and twenty minutes per week. (White et al., 2019). That is just over seventeen minutes per day!

So next time I am taking in my great outdoors and in my calm happy place, I will be able to turn to my partner and say, “I’m taking my prescription from nature”.

Happy forest bathing.

Sandie

References:

Balmumcu, & Pekince, G. D. (2023). Effects of forest bath Etkileri. Psikiyatride güncel yaklaşimlar, 15(1), 62–. https://doi.org/10.18863/pgy.1083096

Chowdhury, M.R. (2019, March 11). The positive effects of nature on your mental well-being. Positive Psychology. https://positivepsychology.com/positive-effects-of-nature/

Dailan, P. (2018, March 1). Natural Effects. National Parks Association of NSW. https://npansw.org.au/2018/03/01/natural-effects/

Environment SA. (2022, March 21).How forest bathing can bring you closer to nature. https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/goodliving/posts/2017/05/forest-bathing-in-parks

Houlden, Weich, S., Porto de Albuquerque, J., Jarvis, S., & Rees, K. (2018). The relationship between greenspace and the mental wellbeing of adults: A systematic review. PloS One, 13(9), e0203000–e0203000. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203000

Mequable. (2015, March, 20) Medical, Drug, Medicine image [Stock Image]. pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/medical-drug-medicine-green-leaf-681120/

Muir, J. (1916) A Thousand-mile Walk to the Gulf, Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Parks Victoria (n.d.). Connecting to the Medicine of the Forest. https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/news/2021/10/04/04/35/connecting-to-the-medicine-of-the-forest

Parks Victoria (n.d.). Forest Bathing. https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/healthy-parks-healthy-people/nature-benefits/mental-health-and-wellbeing/forest-therapy

Santos-Longhurst, A. (2013, March 13).What Are the Symptoms and Causes of High Cortisol Levels? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/high-cortisol-symptoms

Valentin. (2015, December, 2)  Green trees on brown grass field during daytime image [Stock Image]. pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/forest-trees-sun-rays-sunlight-fog-1072828/

Wen, Y., Yan, Q., Pan, Y., Gu, X., & Liu, Y. (2019). Medical empirical research on forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku): a systematic review. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, 24(1), 70–70. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12199-019-0822

White, Alcock, I., Grellier, J., Wheeler, B. W., Hartig, T., Warber, S. L., Bone, A., Depledge, M. H., & Fleming, L. E. (2019). Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and well-being. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 7730–11. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3

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