- Ricka Robb Kohnstamm
Nature as medicine
How often to you spend time outdoors? Maybe not enough.
A recent German research study details a growing body of research that shows that living close to forests is beneficial for mental health, wellbeing, and longevity.
Data on 341 participants, between the ages of 61 and 82, and who lived in a city but at various distances from forested areas (some very close, some further away) were analyzed for indicators of brain structural integrity. The study details a positive association between proximity to forest land and amygdala integrity.
And why does that matter?
The amygdala is the brain structure that plays a key role in processing emotions, including fear and anxiety. Living near a forest may help you cope better with stress. And lowered stress is better for health and wellbeing.
Oliver Sacks, the British neurologist and very wise man, said "My religion is nature. That's what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me."
This study supports what I already know to be true for myself. Being in a forest is healing, for mind, body and spirit.
Over this holiday weekend, I will purposefully move towards forested areas and notice how it feels.