Let Nature Heal You

We know that trees are essential for the health of the planet. Turns out, they play a role in our health, too.


We all know intuitively that going outside is good for us, and a growing foundation of science and neuroscience underlies the health benefits of being outdoors. In the 1980s, the secretary of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries coined the term shinrin-yoku for making contact with and being affected—both physically and mentally—by the atmosphere of the forest. Shinrin-yoku translates in the West as “forest bathing” and is part of what I call the green cure: connecting with the natural world to help us thrive physically, cognitively, emotionally, and even spiritually.

Forest bathing incorporates many of the benefits of meditation while getting us outdoors and in motion. In a study at the College of Landscape Architecture at Sichuan Agricultural University, 30 men and 30 women were given a route of the same length to walk in either a bamboo forest or an urban area. The researchers measured blood pressure as well as electrical activity in the brain using an EEG, and they found that, among those who walked the forest path, blood pressure was lowered significantly as attention and concentration improved. The people walking in nature reported less anxiety and a generally happier mood than the urban group. 

The New…

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