May 16, 2023
One of Hippocrates' main tenets of healing was “Revere the Healing Power of Nature.” Nature has long been known to have a calming effect on the human mind and body. The same patterns that dictate healing in humans dictate healing in the natural world; it is our disconnection from nature that may be the underlying cause of stress and many current medical conditions. As our current lives are becoming more removed from nature, we are missing the underlying healing that is present within nature. This connection between nature and healing has been explored through the millennia and now the scientific evidence demonstrates that there is indeed a healing power of nature.
The evidence to date demonstrates that just five minutes of exposure to green space can produce measurable improvements in mood and self-esteem, a 50-minute walk in nature improved memory and attention span by 20 percent, and that nature exposure can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and lower cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress.) There is even evidence that exposure to nature can increase feelings of awe and wonder, which in turn can lead to greater life satisfaction and well-being. One study found that patients recovering from surgery who had a view of nature from their hospital room required less pain medication and had shorter hospital stays than those with a view of a brick wall; as a result of this newer data, photographs of nature scenes are starting to hang in Emergency Departments and hospital hallways.
Yet nature has more to offer us than photographs on a wall or even walking outdoors. Birds, plants, energy and even the stars - these are all a part of nature, as we humans are. While it is clear that history and the scientific evidence now agree that a connection to nature is healing, remembering this connection in any way one can will augment our human experience to a life much larger than our offices, screens and supermarkets. Go out and look at the moon, watch the birds in the park, go for a hike, or look at photographs of beautiful landscapes or nebulae to reduce stress, boost cognitive function, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and increase feelings of awe and wonder.
September 22, 2023