By Ellen Nimmo
During my team’s weekly meeting this Monday, we did a round of “How was your weekend?” and any two other questions for each member of the team. One of the questions I got was, “Did you make it outside to enjoy any of the beautiful weather?” My answer was, yes, but I guess I could have said, yes, I went forest bathing.
That sounds weird. But even if the name is, the act isn’t.
You’ve probably heard by now that time spent outdoors is good for your health. And as someone that has noticed this phenomenon play out in my own life and as someone that is feeling the weight of a pandemic-laden winter approaching, I want to remind you – time spent outdoors is good for your health.
It could be that you’re already practicing a little extra outdoors time. I’ve certainly seen a lot more apple orchard and pumpkin picking pictures on my Instagram feed lately. It is as though, with much of the way we used to spend time striped away in 2020, folks have been kicking it back old school. This excites me. Partially because I believe our bodies are created to be “in touch” with the Natural world, literally, and partially because the science backs me up (which is nice).
While the light is still with us, let’s talk about the science part, just a bit.
Improve your memory.
Studies have shown that time spent in “green spaces” helps improve memory, creativity, and overall brain functionality. Take a walk among the trees and you might remember the item on grocery list you keep forgetting or remember to send that encouraging note you’ve been meaning to mail off.
Improve your health.
Lower heart rate, reduced cortisol levels, lower inflammation in the body, reduced anxiety, and better-functioning immune system are all ways that time outdoors in parklike or green settings can help improve health in our bodies.
Elicit feelings of awe.
Why bother with awe? Well, despite our lack of attention to the peculiar emotion – awe – it can, studies show, move us into better lives. Apparently, taking time to experience wonder has the ability to improve our mood and enable us to do the following: think more critically, create patience and connectedness, live more generously, and exist with more humility.
Now, I ask ye, who doesn’t want those things?
Who among us??
And yet –
Often times, we reach for the remote, the tablet, the phone. We haul ourselves to shopping malls, virtual or otherwise. We load our eyes and ears with the clatter of bogus tasks and the hum of synthetic pleasures.
This autumn, as the weather beckons us out from under the cover of our fluorescence and into the golden glow of the shorter days, my hope is that we all take stock of the strange and awesome power of time amongst the trees.
Vast mysteries in autumn wood
In too the meadows fair
Depths yet undiscovered
Sweet as orchard air
Whispering through the leaves
Creation it can sing!
This certain silence
I have kept
In awe of every thing