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.