Yesterday I listened to an interview on CBC with Dr. Melissa Lim who says that spending time outdoors can clear our minds and lower our stress.
“With research in hand, doctors in parts of Canada have signed on to provide what are known as ‘nature prescriptions’ for those living with mental illnesses and physical health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.”
Nature prescriptions were named one of the top 8 global wellness trends in 2019. And it’s no surprise – research shows that kids and adults who spend more time in nature are happier and healthier. PaRx is breaking ground as Canada’s first national evidence-based nature prescription program.
Last November, PaRx, an organization led by Dr. Lem, partnered with B.C. Parks Foundation and health care providers across British Columbia to offer patients nature prescriptions.”
Imagine, even two hours a week makes a difference and the only side effects are:
- Living longer
- Increased energy
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Better mood
- Pain reduction
- Improved heart health
This trend is evident in the US as well.
“At his office in Washington, D.C., Dr. Robert Zarr, a pediatrician, writes prescriptions for parks. He pulls out a prescription pad and scribbles instructions—which park his obese, diabetic, anxious, or depressed patient should visit, on which days, and for how long—just as though he were prescribing medication.
Zarr says it’s important to give concrete advice instead of repeating the vague admonitions (Exercise more! Get outside!) that people are used to hearing. Zarr is part of a small but growing group of healthcare professionals who are essentially medicalizing nature. He relies on a compendium of 382 local parks—the product of meticulous mapping and rating of green spaces, based on accessibility, safety, and amenities—that he helped create for DC Park Rx, a community health initiative. The Washington program was one of the first in the United States; there are now at least 150 others. “We work with the doctors, nurses and health care providers around the country and show them why it’s so relevant to prescribe parks and how easy it is to do so that they can make it a part of their daily routine.” From the report on global wellness trends 2019 (link above)
Nature heals: it contributes to your physical well-being, reduces blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.
Nature soothes: it helps us cope with pain as we become absorbed in the trees, plants, water, and other elements. We are genetically programmed to respond to nature, and we can be distracted from our discomfort.
Nature restores: Our general well-being is impacted by nature, including meaningfulness and vitality.
We are busy people, and often worn out by illness, care giving, covid, you name it… How about this proposition for us all? For our good health we might consider taking ourselves outdoors for at least 30 minutes every single day. The research shows just two hours a week can make a difference.
A walk in a park, a forest, by a river or an ocean. Moodle along to savor what you notice. Slow down for ½ hour each day. Refresh yourself with the beauty of nature.
Some people are not in a position to walk an hour, but it might be possible to drive to a bench by a river, or go to a park where you can walk for a little bit, followed by sitting quietly on that bench – listening, looking, and smelling the crisp air. Savor your life and the beauty around you.
September is my favorite month. I hope you all enjoy these beautiful, beginning of autumn, days. Warmly, Trudy