In the ancient rock formations- called by natives "tepuis"- immersed deep in the Brazilian-Venezuelan Amazon jungle, there is a legend that whoever brings there negative, stress, anxious minds, will bring bad weather to the mountain when they visit. While visiting these tepui mountains, among a group of 18-people, we had the chance to enjoy beautiful weather all of the days we were there. The group was exciting and fun, and most members were getting to know each other. But, could we say this legend actually proved right? That the good ambiance contributed to the good weather? There was indeed a great atmosphere within the group, however, there were also several moments of tension and stress, so we can't give all the credit to the good vibes. Though, one thing is for sure, this trip to the Amazon jungle was one of the most restoring, refreshing and teaching experiences we had in our lives. It made us aware of our strength, courage and how much we could accomplish. The bigger picture was clearer for us, and we gained perspective. Being surrounded by nature for several days showed us that forests give us so much, and we should never grow apart from them. These lands reminded us that life is in front of us. It made us feel more alive.
Most of us sense that taking a walk in a forest is good for us. We take a break from the rush of our daily lives. We enjoy the beauty and peace of being in a natural setting. Now, research is showing that visiting a forest has real, quantifiable health benefits, both mental and physical. Even five minutes around trees or in green spaces may improve health. Think of it as a prescription with no negative side effects that's also free.
-New York's Department of Environmental Conservation
However, modern cities and urban spaces are undermining our connection with nature. Research has shown the emotional and mental strain cities have on people. Mental illnesses, mood disorders are more common in urban areas, and while many factors share the blame, reduced access to nature is a contributing cause (Peter Kahn and Terry Hartig, 2016). Authors explain that there's an enormous amount of disease largely tied to our removal from the natural environment.
To change this, we should take action to introduce and interact with nature in the urban core. For city planners this means requiring buildings with windows that open to allow in fresh air and natural light; incorporating more rooftop gardens and urban agriculture; designing areas around buildings for people to see, touch and smell nature. For people this requires creating spaces at home to sense in different ways the elements in nature.
These remedies will allow people to experience the physical and psychological benefits of nature and hence create a wider understanding and appreciation of nature among individuals and the collective. In fact, numerous studies around the world explore the health benefits of spending time in nature, green spaces, and, more specifically in forests. Some of the proven benefits of forest interaction are reducing stress, improving moods, increasing ability to focus and energy levels, improving sleep, boosting immune system, lowering blood pressure and even accelerating recovery from surgery or illnesses. Read further on the specific studies on these benefits.
To allow people to interact -using all their senses- with a forest environment in more constant ways at home Forest Homes has gathered selected items to include at your home. Check out their Senses Collection here. Be inspired by forests.
WHO, Urbanisation and Health, http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/4/10-010410/en/
Restorative Commons, USDA, https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/gtr/gtr_nrs-p-39r.pdf