March Moods and Being Green

I've been reading a lot lately about the benefits of being outdoors. As a gardener and owner of a farm, I spend a portion of each day outside - whether I want to or not. The plants and animals need to be tended to, and so I bundle up in the winter and venture out. I am also inclined, in order to get some aerobic exercise, to walk in nearby woods, rather than on a treadmill or on the sidewalks down my street. During the time I spend outdoors, I find myself contemplating nature, organizing my thoughts and generally focusing on breathing in the greeness by which I find myself surrounded. I know I feel more at peace and content, as well as more alive.

Coastal maine Botanic Garden

So it was not much of a surprise, and more of an affirmation, to learn that there is now some scientific evidence showing that exposure to plants and nature provides a measure of benefits for stress-related ailments such as high anxiety and blood pressure. Time spent in green spaces also brings increased concentration and happiness.

According to an article in Nursery Management (Feb. 8, 2013), studies by Geoffrey Donovan of the Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station, as well as others, have shown that mortality rates increase in areas where there is tree loss due to emerald ash borer. As trees can improve air quality, it is probable that the loss of trees can lead to cardiovascular and respiratory distress.

The article also goes on to provide information from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on the calming effect for children with AD/HD symptoms. Performing activities in green spaces had a positive affect on children, reducing their symptoms and allowing them to function better than when exposed to non-green spaces.

A related article, Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning, speaks of the research being done do prove the benefits of "going green". In Japan, a movement called shinrin-yoku - literally "forest bathing" - is now a standard treatment for stress related ailments. People from the crowded cities travel to parks to partake in activities designed to relieve the stress and anxiety of modern living - smelling, tasting and touching the green world. Researchers are proving that nature can be a true ally in combating the stresses of modern life, lowering blood pressure, relieving depression and even possbily preventing cancer. The 48 Forest Therapy Trails throughout Japan are being utilized by thousands with positive results.

Yoshifumi Miyazaki (University of Chiba) and Qing Li (Nippon Medical School) are using field tests, hormone analysis and brain-imaging technology to quantify what is happening physically and psychologically to those who wander the woods. They are proving the benefits of green space on human health and well-being, with results lasting even after you return home.

So, if you are planning a vacation, go to a natural area, one with lots of green space. Try to be outside at least one weekend a month. Visit a park or spend time in your garden. Being near the water is also of benefit. In the winter, get to a greenhouse at a nursery or botanic garden and inhale the scents of greenery and the damp soil. I know that being in my greenhouse, tending my seedlings, calms and centers me. Get a little dirt under your fingernails and cherish and protect the pockets of green in your neighborhood.

 

To read the articles, go to http://www.nurserymanagementonline.com/nm0213-plants-people-health-benef... and

http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/wellness/Take-Two-Hours-of-Pine-For...

 

Stay green,

Karen