Rx: Nature Prescription

Dec 14, 2021 | Michelle Graff-Radford, HABIT Yoga Instructor | @michellegraffradford | Comments (7)

"Nature itself is the best physician."

-Hippocrates

"Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” 

–John Muir

The healing benefits of being in nature have been expressed by many different cultures, poets, and healers throughout the ages. Research confirms the amazing healing effects of nature on our emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing. Even viewing images of nature scenes has benefits.

Why is being in nature is so beneficial?

Reduces stress

Being in nature reduces your heart rate, blood pressure, and the production of stress hormones and makes you feel better emotionally. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology showed that 20-minutes of walking or sitting in nature without any distractions of digital devices, provided the most reduction in stress.

Research has found that even having a plant in a room can reduce stress.

A study from Japan compared volunteers taking urban versus forest walks.  The study found that those who walked in forests had significantly lower heart rates and reported better moods and less anxiety than those who walked in urban settings. One conclusion is that walking in nature has a beneficial effect on stress reduction beyond exercise alone.

Improves cognitive function

Participants who took a nature walk did better on a memory test than the subjects who walked down urban streets.

Another study found that participants who listened to nature sounds like waves crashing performed better on cognitive tests than those who listened to urban sounds like traffic.

Increases feelings of happiness

Participants from a study in Finland felt psychologically restored after spending 15 minutes sitting in nature. This feeling was enhanced if they went for a short walk afterwards.

Decreases depression

Studies have shown that nature walks benefit people suffering from depression. The participants in these studies showed significant improvement in their mood, and they felt more energized to take steps to improve their depression.

Enhances your immune system

An essential part of Japan’s national health program is “forest bathing “-- a name for walking in the woods. Japanese researchers studying “forest bathing” have found that women who spent six hours in the woods over a two-day period had elevated levels of Natural Killer blood cells which fight tumors and infections.

Decreases pain and speeds healing

Patients exposed to nature healed faster after surgery and took fewer pain medications. Other studies have shown similar results with scenes from nature and plants in hospital rooms.

 

There are many ways to appreciate the healing and soothing effects of nature. Take a walk in your neighborhood or nearby park, or start gardening as a hobby. If you are unable to leave home and go into nature, think about looking out your window and listen to the sounds of nature --singing of birds. You can also flip through nature books or watch a nature show. Even having indoor plants is beneficial.

 

We’d love to hear how you enjoy the healing benefits of nature.

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) blog.

I have spent the latter part of my life helping connect people with nature through the WindStar Wildlife Institute. I couldn’t agree more about the benefits.

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If I miss going to the facility and spending time outdoors with my horses, and the surrounding forest more than one day, I start to slip into a funk. Rain or shine, I cannot do without outdoor time. On our annual visit to the coast, I spend time walking the cliffs and rocks around the shoreline. I listen to the sounds, smell the smells of earth and trees, without all the noise and stench of civilization. I never noticed how much town stunk until my first rounds of chemo, but I can’t really get past it now. Nature feeds my heart and soul.

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@windstar

I have spent the latter part of my life helping connect people with nature through the WindStar Wildlife Institute. I couldn’t agree more about the benefits.

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Hi windstar, may I ask what you did to help connect people with nature?

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I created two certification courses—“WindStar Wildlife Habitat Naturalist” and “WindStar National Master Naturalist”. Our goal was to educate people on how to improve the wildlife habitat on their property—from apartment balcony to ranch or farm. We encouraged them to share their wildlife habitat with friends and relatives and pass on their knowledge.

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@windstar

I created two certification courses—“WindStar Wildlife Habitat Naturalist” and “WindStar National Master Naturalist”. Our goal was to educate people on how to improve the wildlife habitat on their property—from apartment balcony to ranch or farm. We encouraged them to share their wildlife habitat with friends and relatives and pass on their knowledge.

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I love it. I'm an office window birder myself. Although I live in an urban center, I'm blessed sightings of the neighborhood red-tailed hawk family and many cardinals who love my apricot tree in the winter. I actually saw the hawk parents feed and teach junior to fly.

Windstar, I'm so glad this topic prompted you to make your first post. May I ask what health condition brought you to Mayo Clinic Connect? What group of members might I connect you with?

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I have been coming to Rochester for nearly 50 years lately for fibromyalgia and aortic aneurysm

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@windstar

I have been coming to Rochester for nearly 50 years lately for fibromyalgia and aortic aneurysm

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Windstar, I invite you to join the discussions about fibromyalgia and aortic aneurysm in these related groups:
– Aortic Aneurysms https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/aneurysms/
– Chronic Pain https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/pain/

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