Most everyone has heard the term “tree-hugger” and many times, it conjures up images of granola-eating hippies in Birkenstocks! This term can just as easily apply to anyone who is concerned about environmental issues or the health of the plant, however – and science is showing that “tree-hugging” can actually be good for your health!
“Blinded by Science” Confirms Benefits of Tree Hugging
Actually, you don’t even have to literally hug the tree – you reap many health benefits just from being out in nature. In a recently published book entitled “Blinded by Science”, author Matthew Silverstone discusses the link between contact with the woods and alleviation of a number of problems of depression, poor concentration and even headaches.
Silverstone also points out that while modern science is still studying the link between contact with the forest and these health benefits, this knowledge is nothing new. Such “therapy” has been used by many peoples all over the world, going back to ancient times. The old tradition of what the Japanese call “forest bathing” is a prime example of using contact with the woods to induce a calm, contemplative and healing state.
Modern Research Chimes In
Silverstone points out, however, that these ancient practices do have some modern scientific confirmation. He points to several studies that show the behavioral, psychological and emotional benefits to children when they have regular contact with nature and the outdoors.
He also points to study like a public health report which investigated the link between urban green space and community health and wellness and concluded that “access to nature can significantly contribute to our mental and capital wellbeing”. This seems to be particularly important for urbanites, who can more easily find themselves cut off from the natural world.
Other studies have shown that, in an increasingly crowded and busy world which can induce stress (along with all the health problems stress can cause), that contact with nature to alleviate this stress, anxiety and even depression is even more important than ever. Correlation has also been found between contact with the natural world and mood enhancement as well as bettering of depression symptoms.
How to Get in Touch with Nature
Strengthening your connection with nature can take many forms. And there are many small changes that you can make to increase the time you spend with the natural world. These changes can include things like adding plants to the spaces where you live or work. It can mean taking a walk on your lunch break through a park that has trees, or taking your children to a local playground or natural area to hike as a family once a week. You could also start a garden or, if you live in a very urban area, find out where community gardens are located and get yourself a plot. It all counts towards increasing your contact with nature.
In short, “tree hugging” can take many forms, and often only requires small changes in your current lifestyle. However, these small changes can bring big benefits in the form of stress relief, improved physical health and mental and emotional well-being.