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 Image: Kerry Ferris

Image: Kerry Ferris

This was a wonderful opportunity to connect with the forest and self

Nature does amazing things for people, and people can do amazing things for nature. Reciprocity is a key element of our work.

Research shows that there are many important benefits from experiencing and connecting with nature, whether incidental or intentional, for mental, physical and social health – our general wellbeing. Like other contemplative practices, the benefits of nature contact are enhanced and deepened through regular practice.

Benefits to nature of increased nature connection include increased values around protecting nature, which can result in behaviours that are beneficial to nature such as picking up litter, donating to environmental conservation groups, reducing plastic use, eating less meat or many other actions that improve nature's wellbeing.

 

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Physical health benefits

These include boosting the immune system, decreasing blood pressure, inflammation and blood sugar, restoring attention, reducing headaches, and fatigue, which contribute to improved sleep and much more. Surgical patients that can see a view of nature from their hospital rooms recover faster, use less pain medication and go home sooner than patients that cannot see nature. Other research has found that people that live closer to increased amounts of greenery, or forested areas have reduced mortality rates for some cancers, reduced health risk factors and reduced occurrence of illness.


mental health benefits

The biophilia hypothesis states that humans have an ‘innately emotional affiliation to…other living organisms’, including natural landscapes.  So it's not surprising that our growing disconnection from the natural environment is exacerbating the escalating rates of mental illness and environmental degradation across the world. Nature is one of the few non-drug interventions that can give your mental health an amazing boost absolutely free. Nature is also a unique contributor to happiness and there is a lot of evidence showing that people are happier in nature, including neuroscience studies. Spending time in natural settings can potentially reduce depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD and stress. Cognitive benefits of nature contact include restoration of attention and improved memory, increased self-esteem, academic performance, creativity, decision-making and productivity.

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social health benefits

Nature is a fantastic setting for social connection by facilitating social interactions and enabling social empowerment. Exposure to nature reduces violence, aggression and crime. Groups that spend time together in nature increase social connections, social cohesion and improve relationships, and increase pro-social behaviours such as sharing, generosity and helping.