All those kids with ADHD and bipolar disorder?? How do they (in general) spend most of their time? On video games and other passive engagement. Not the way we did when we were kids running around all over the place in the great outdoors.
Nature is an important part of everyone’s life and we cut it out at our peril. Of course our systematic disregard for nature is bringing the world to an end on all sorts of levels, but our mental health too suffers greatly.
It’s just a piece of the puzzle, but a very significant one.
I spent all of yesterday out in my yard (that looks like a forest) on a futon mat sick as hell, but outside. The importance of nature is not lost on me, even if I can’t get out of bed. I’ll make my bed in nature.
By chance, a small hospital in Pennsylvania became the setting of a remarkable experiment. Scientist Roger Ulrich noticed some surgery patients recovered in a room with a view of leafy trees, while others recovered in an identical room, except its windows faced a brick wall.
Ulrich decided to test whether the view made any difference in the outcome for patients. He looked back at records on gall bladder surgery over a period of 10 years. The results proved enlightening.
Patients with the tree view were able to leave the hospital about a day earlier than those with a wall view, the study revealed. Patients with trees in sight also requested significantly less pain medication and reported fewer problems to nurses than wall-view patients. Contact with nature, even as limited as a view through a window, enhanced recovery from illness.
Researchers have learned much about the restorative effects of nature since Ulrich’s landmark study appeared in 1984. Studies repeatedly have shown that contact with nature can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, relieve stress, sharpen mental states and, among children with attention and conduct disorders, improve behavior and learning. Regardless of cultural background, people consistently prefer natural settings over man-made environments.
“We know that exposure to natural environments has clearly beneficial physiological effects,” says Portland psychologist Thomas Joseph Doherty.
But if exposure to nature is beneficial, what happens when we withdraw from it? That’s one of the defining questions for ecopsychology — an emerging branch of psychology rooted in the idea that mental health requires, in addition to strong bonds with fellow humans, a connection with nature and an understanding of our place in the ecosystem we are a part of. (read the rest here)