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Nature's Moments

Friday April 04, 2014

Morningsun (1)We’ve long known that connecting with nature has a powerful influence over us. Studies evaluating the effect of nature on healing show that this effect is real and not just imagined. Using nature videos, artwork and exposure to the outdoors, researchers show that recovery from surgery is faster, the length of hospital stays are reduced and the healing process is enhanced. Natural spaces stimulated creativity, engagement, and problem solving yet at the same time add a sense of peacefulness and calm. Nature gives us a respect for our interconnectedness, adds meaning and purpose to life. Hospitals, hospice programs and healing arts practitioners now intentionally add nature to their décor and environment to enhance personal healing.

In a time when many of us our flocking to gyms, joining exercise classes or getting on the treadmill to get in ‘their exercise’, we may be missing an opportunity to move and feel well. Researchers evaluating the effect of walking on our mood showed that a walk in the park improved mood more than a similar walk in the shopping mall. Our environment affects how we feel, think, move and behave. Think about a walk in the park on a beautiful sunny day and the feeling and experience that comes to mind.

John Muir, a naturalist and nature lover once wrote,

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

  • The fresh air sharpens the senses and clears the mind of clutter
  • The marvel and good natured fun of watching nature
  • The stress dissolving effect of the peaceful calm of a gentle breeze
  • The sense of hope and anticipation that comes with the first spring buds.
  • The reflection of days past and what brings joy to us in life as we watch the sun set
  • The challenge and sure footedness of walking that is gained from walking on uneven ground
  • The chance to slow down, share your walk and connect with a loved one
  • The energizing feel of the sun
  • The joy and reminder that little things like a bird’s song or child’s laughter are important in life
  • The soothing effect of the sun’s warmth on our back

The benefits of nature are available to us all. Nature therapy is a growing field of professionals in the healing arts that are using the sights sounds and touch of nature in their programs. Follow these simple tips to bring the outdoors into work and living space

  • Take a moment each day to look out the window or sit outside and truly ‘see’ the beauty around you.
  • Use the soothing sounds of nature to help you fall asleep or help you fight stress
  • Fill your walls with artwork that depicts nature scenes and memories
  • Create that outdoor get away to get lost in nature. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate deck or patio. A well placed chair outside may be all you need.
  • Enjoy the benefits of a small fish tank, potted fern or bird feeder.
  • Use stone, wood and shells as centerpieces or accents in your home rather than commercially bought items.
  • Collect items such as rocks or leaves on your trips as both a reminder and way to bring your experience home.

Monique L. Giroux, MDMonique L. Giroux, MD
Medical Director, Northwest Parkinson's Foundation

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