The Nature Effect
So we got home from our beach and forest holiday to a few surprises. Our hot water tank burst and spilled out into our garage. Our oven died just as we tried to cook our first meal back home. We discovered dry rot in our basement and – all in the same week – our camper van died.
You could say it was a bad week. But we were rested and had just spent a week by the water in a tropical forest so we were carrying the positive vibes with us as disaster struck. We actually laughed as each new crisis piled on.
Do you want to be less grumpy? Take your dog for a hike in the woods. Go camping. Hang out near water or sit under an evergreen tree. The nature effect will win you over, change your attitude and make you smile. Even if your house is falling apart around you.
What is the nature effect (also called forest bathing) and why do we care? It is the way a forest heals and changes us. It has the same value as meditation but is so much simpler. I just finished reading 3 books about the nature effect and forest bathing. Look for them in your local library and consider reading at least one of them over the holidays. I like The Nature Fix best but for pure research Forest Bathing by Dr. Qing Li is the most detailed and documented.
“We can relieve stress, find new mental energy, restore our awareness, or rid ourselves of fears and worries by spending more time in nature,” says Clemens Arvay in his 2018 book The Biophilia Effect. “Nature is immensely effective in allowing us to distance ourselves from stress-triggering situations (pg 39.)
“The general conclusions drawn by multiple studies over the years are that if you want to reduce stress and set your archaic brain parts to relaxation, look for the following landscape elements in nature or a park: sparkling water, blooming trees, gardens with fruits and vegetables, growing mushrooms…. (pg 42.)
Forest Bathing by Dr.Qing Li “Not only do the beautiful and magnificent sights of nature make us feel better, they can actually improve our health”.(pg 109.) “A forest bathing trip once a month is enough to maintain a high level of natural killer cell activity” (pg 87.) “Forest bathing can help you sleep and it can put you in a better mood, making you less aggressive and hostile and generally less grumpy all around (pg 82.)
If you have time for a vacation, don’t go to a city. Go to a natural area. Try to go one weekend a month. Visit a park at least once a week. Gardening is good…..
The Nature Fix Here are a few quotes from The Nature Fix by Florence Williams: [There] is a 50% increase in creativity after just a few days in nature (pg 37)..coniferous essential oils …. mitigate stress by lowering levels of cortisol (when inhaled) …(pg 65)…There is even a happy train that delivers school bullies to a national forest for two days so they can learn to be nicer (pg 70.) Forest healing reduces medical costs, creates new jobs and benefits local economies (pg 71.) “Short exposures to nature can make us less aggressive, more creative, more civic minded and healthier overall (pg 253.)
“After days of wandering in a [wild] place like this, resting the executive branch and watching the clouds drift across an endless sky, good shit happens to your brain.” (pg 50)
So the holiday is over and the disasters facing us this week are being dealt with. Helpful husband was able to buy and install a new hot water heater with the help of a friend and that probably saved us a thousand dollars. Then, after the repairman said our stove couldn’t be fixed Helpful Husband brought the controller (like the brains of the system) to a specialized shop and it was repaired and then he re-installed it with the help of a neighbour. That saved us the priced of a new stove or between 2-4 thousand dollars. The van only needed a major tune-up so it is back in our driveway ready to go on our next adventure. And the mold? Still working on that. Might literally have to bulldoze the house but that would be extreme so we are counting on something less dramatic and have called in an insurance claim.
We know we came home in a really relaxed state from our green holiday. This helped us to process the disaster this week could have been. And seriously we know that nature is our friend and have already booked a long weekend in the woods at the end of December. Different beach, different trees and different friends but all the same full-on nature. And we can’t wait. Reading these books didn’t change my mind on the value of nature. It simply confirmed what we already know. Our garden and our forests are priceless. We try to get out in them every day.
Donna Balzer is the Brand Ambassador for BCGreenhouse Builders and she has two greenhouses in her big backyard.
What Would Donna Do?
Get my growing and gardening tips and pointers throughout the season.