“Of all the paths you take in life, be sure some of them are dirt.”~ John Muir
‘Nature-deficit disorder’ . It’s a new term for an old malady—didn’t our grandmothers tell us to “go outside and get some fresh air”? As humans we belong in nature, of course. What is new is the that human beings (especially children) are spending more and more time in an artificially constructed civilization, created to hold us safely away from nature—artificial air, artificial light, and less and less time outdoors. Researchers now believe this results in a plethora of physical and emotional health and behavioral problems, or ‘Nature-deficit disorder’.
The more our society becomes dependent on technology the less we schedule for nature, and the more we need it. But we are all busy people, especially those of us who live and work in the city, so we need to know a magic number, the perfect amount of time to spend in nature, to counteract the negative effects of an artificially constructed civilization.
The answer is: 2 hours a week—-anything less showed no appreciable benefit .
A study of 20,000 people at the University of Exeter found that people who spent at least two hours a week (they didn’t need to be consecutive) in safe green spaces walking, exercising, jogging, hiking, or just sitting, felt better health and psychological well-being than those who didn’t.
Now we’re starting to see businesses all over the world incorporating nature into their work campuses. Therapists in Japan are even prescribing ‘Forest bathing‘ (a phrase coined by Dr. Qing Li) to their patients as an antidote to depression.
Time in nature can heal our stress, lower our blood pressure, enhance our immune system function, increase our self-esteem, reduce depression, anxiety, and confusion, fights fatigue and increases energy and vitality, Increases production of NK cells which destroy cancer and bacterial infections in the body, Increases sense of intuition and and improve our mood.
Time spent in nature reduces feelings of isolation and promotes a sense of calm and well-being. It’s easy to get started. The key to effective forest bathing is: Be mindful of the present moment.. Go to a forest (or woods). Walk slowly and mindfully. Breathe deeply. Open your mind and body to your senses. What sights and sounds are you experiencing? Absorb these sensations and simply be aware of them.
2 hours a week—that’s it.