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Being in nature is good for us

Tended 15 days ago (2 times) Planted 1 year ago Mentioned 1 time

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For more than 99 percent of our history as humans, we lived close to nature. We lived in the open. The first house with a roof appeared only 5,000 years ago. Television less than a century ago. Internet-connected phones only about 30 years ago. Over the large majority of our 2-million-year evolutionary history, Darwinian forces molded our brains to find kinship with nature, what the biologist E. O. Wilson called “biophilia.” That kinship had survival benefit. Habitat selection, foraging for food, reading the signs of upcoming storms all would have favored a deep affinity with nature. Social psychologists have documented that such sensitivities are still present in our psyches today. Further psychological and physiological studies have shown that more time spent in nature increases happiness and well-being; less time increases stress and anxiety. Thus, there is a profound disconnect between the natureless environment we have created and the “natural” affections of our minds.

From “This Is No Way to Be Human” in The Atlantic. The key conclusion from the study cited above:

Those who are more connected to nature tended to experience more positive affect, vitality, and life satisfaction compared to those less connected to nature.

To the surprise of the public, and even to researchers, studies have shown that brief exposure to the natural world produces measurable medical and social benefits for humans. Plant a tree outside a classroom window and test scores improve. Plant a tree outside a hospital room windows and the patients in the facility heal faster. Studies show that apartment buildings with treed courtyards house families that undergo fewer divorces, higher graduation rates, and less juvenile delinquency than nearby apartment complexes with no trees. Spending just 15 minutes in a peaceful natural setting reduces our blood pressure, as well as the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone in our blood. What, pray-tell, is going on? There is a growing consensus that all of these effects stem from the reduction of stress that results from contact with nature.

From the same Atlantic piece:

Japanese doctors and psychologists have developed a mental therapy called “forest bathing” (shinrin-yoku). The idea is that spending time in nature—specifically walking through forests—might improve mental health. And it does. Research with hundreds of healthy volunteers, using standard psychological tests of mood and anxiety and comparing mental states of people who “bathed” in a forest for a day with those of the same group on another “control” day, away from the forest, have shown that hostility, depression, and stress are significantly decreased after a day in the forest. […]

Numerous studies, recently summarized and published in the International Journal of Biometeorology, have shown that forest bathing significantly reduces levels of cortisol, the body’s principal stress hormone.


  • Stress

    …by 34%. Presumably a cold shower could have a similar effect. - [[Being in nature is good for us|get out in nature]] ## A Tragic Feedback Loop As described…