Nature Immersion – The Ways and Whys It is Important to Integrate It Into Daily Life
For decades, studies spoke about the importance of our exposure to nature and the benefits. However, it seems like it took a global pandemic to magnify nature as an important essential that the general public treated mostly as a leisurely pursuit, was content to view from an office window, or considered a ‘nice to have’ until last year.
Nature’s impact on our emotional and mental well-being has long-reaching benefits. The following are just a few recent scientific examples:
- Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter led a study of 120,000 people who spent 2 hours in parks, or other natural environments over a week – in one day or spread out over days. The results demonstrated that they had better health and psychological well-being than individuals who did not do so. This research included participants from a variety of socio-economic groups, races, and occupations, as well as those with disabilities and chronic illness.
- Vegetation abundance was once thought to promote crime (providing additional places to hide). A 2015 study of 2000 people highlights that more vegetation lowers aggressive and or, violent crimes and creates more community cohesion. Participants in the study included a range of socio-economic groups and represented across regions in the UK.
- “Forest bathing” — a whimsical name for walking in the woods is a popular area of study for Japanese scientists. They infer that aerosols from the forests, inhaled during a walk, are connected to high levels of Natural Killer or NK cells in the immune system. These cells fight tumors and illness. A study that followed showed that when essential oils from cedars were released into hotel bedrooms, it also caused a notable increase in NK cells.
Aside from improved green-space city planning efforts, other developments are becoming available, providing more ways we can incorporate nature into our lifestyles. Some of these include:
- Forest schools. These outdoor places of learning began in Scandinavia, but have grown in popularity in the United States in recent years. Additionally, Oregon recently passed a ballot to raise funds for outdoor schooling and Washington is the first state in the U.S. to license outdoor preschools, where most of the learning and play happens outside.
- Fitness centers are being reimagined into simulated outdoor designs so that people living in inclement weather environments can still experience a sense of calm and connection to nature after work/school.
- 2017-18 saw the beginnings of outdoor workspaces popping up – such as the one L.L. Bean created in partnership with a coworking business.
Deschutes Wilderness Therapy is excited to see that other industries are tapping into what is at the core of our foundation for our certified treatment programs – nature! Deschutes provides custom therapeutic methods to suit troubled teens’ individual and specific needs.
Learn more about our caring, clinical therapists, licensed programs here.