Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – A Forest Retreat May Just Be What The Doctor Orders!

Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – A Forest Retreat May Just Be What The Doctor Orders!

EarthMattersTitle_01_04_13CFN – Have you ever found yourself living in an area that is just not… well… comfortable. I can remember years ago living in an area in Toronto that I absolutely disliked. I didn’t really know why at the time. I have however come to realize that is was quite possibly due to the location of the house my family was living in at the time. It was directly across from a school, in a built up residential area in the city, which was a concrete and asphalt expanse of space. The house we lived in had a very small front and back lawn. There was not a tree on the property. As a child of 9 years old, I spent many hours outdoors playing; however the boundaries of that activity would have been close to home within parental ear shot. This obviously meant that the time spent outdoors at this time was in a man made environment seriously deprived of natural elements such as grass, trees, grasshoppers, birds, etc.

I have always enjoyed exploring, playing and living close to areas which offered wide open green spaces to run, play and relax and have always made this a criteria for selecting a home in my adult life. These spaces would include water, trees and an assortment of local wildlife. My happiest memories as a child were spent in unsophisticated activity such as building things outside out of dirt using a spoon and an empty jar or swimming in a river. Delight was always achieved tobogganing down ravines in the Don River area of Toronto, behind one of our homes, on a simple piece of cardboard or spotting a hummingbird flitting from one bloom to the next. These are the simple things that filled that little girl with JOY.  Many days were spent with friends exploring the Don River ravine and proudly naming the Islands (high sandy spots in the river) Jaksandeb Island. A part of everyone’s name would be incorporated into the name christening of this new found Island.  I believe we are all naturally attracted to such tranquil spaces as children and due to life circumstances lose touch with these natural environments and their benefits.

With the average North American spending at least eight hours a day looking at some sort of electronic screen is it any wonder that people are more aggressive, more distracted, more stressed and physically tired?  We have become what John Muir described as a “tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people”. So what is a body to do? Well don’t be surprised if you have your Health Professional prescribing “A Nature Retreat” for what is ailing you.  Leisurely forest walks, compared to urban walks have definitively showed a significant decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate.

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“A Recent pilot study by psychologists Paul and Ruth Ann Atchley of University of Kansas and David Trayer of University of Utah found that after three days of hiking and camping in the wilderness, participants in an Outward Bound course improved their scores on tests of creativity by 50 percent.”

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These are just a couple of the benefits of spending time in our natural, green environments that I mention here. Please visit http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/wellness/Take-Two-Hours-of-Pine-Forest-and-Call-Me-in-the-Morning.html?page=1  to read about others.

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If lack of proximity to our natural environments has a detrimental affect on us, doesn’t it stand to reason that it has the same affect on all living species?  Isn’t this news that landowners can benefit from? Health is a priority for people and this information can provide opportunity and benefit to our land owners and our communities. This is a non-extractive way that landowners can use to profitably, safeguard our forests. The Japanese have spent 4 million dollars on Forest bathing research since 2004. It intends to designate a total of 100 Forest Therapy sites within 10 years; for the health of the people and their environment.  Please share this with all the landowners you know.  Thank you.

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Your commentary is always welcome and appreciated below or to earthmatters@jmilner.com

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