The Benefits of Nature
October 3, 2018
The buzz of your 6:00 a.m. alarm clock starts the frenetic pace of your day. You rush to your car or the train while your brain begins filling with the 500 things you must accomplish before you leave at 5:30 to pick up dinner for the kids. And don’t forget the four back-to-back meetings you have today, one of which you are wholly unprepared for, and then there is the report due tomorrow, the conference at the end of the week, and the list goes on and on and on. This doesn’t include the soccer practice, the doctor’s appointments, the gym, your parents, the news, your overdue car inspection, or your leaky washing machine.
As I walked along the sidewalk in the city this morning thinking about my day and what I needed to do, the Drexel Facilities staff were rototilling a small garden bed where flourishing, but soon to dwindle begonias, had rooted all summer. I couldn’t help but smell the fresh rich soil. I stopped in my tracks for a second and took in the fresh earthly aroma – a scent one doesn’t expect to smell in the city. For a few seconds, the meetings, reports, and even my students fell away as I savored the moment.
Take a few moments every day to notice the natural world around you. Maybe it’s a sunrise, a lone dove meandering along, or the dew dripping off a blade of grass. These moments not only pull you out of your frenzied world, they have health benefits. The University of Derby and The Wildlife Trust in the UK completed a study in which they looked at the effects of nature on people over a 30-day period – the study was entitled, “30 Days Wild.” The results are astounding. Participants who rated their health as excellent rose by 30%. “This improvement in health being predicted by the increase in happiness, this relationship is mediated by the change in connection to nature - it adds to a growing body of evidence that shows definitively that we need nature for our health and wellbeing,” says Lucy McRobert of The Wildlife Trust.
Dr. Richardson, the head of psychology at the University of Derby, pointed who a long list of ailments that can have reduced effects when exposed to nature, including hypertension, respiratory tract and cardiovascular illness, anxiety, and mental fatigue, as well as improving vitality and mood and restoring attention capacity. “But more than that, feeling a part of nature has shown to significantly correlate with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, mindfulness, and lower cognitive anxiety.”
So, I challenge you to take a moment today and let go of the meetings, the stress, the conference calls, the leaky washing machines, and notice how the sunlight dances on leaves late in the afternoon, how the green the grass is after a soaking rain, or the wispiness of a passing cloud. Take it in and let nature soothe your soul.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department Head of Graduate Studies
Image: Kennebunk Beach, Maine, taken by Anne Converse Willkomm
Source: BBC~How Nature is Good For Our Health