Wellbeing

Why does nature makes us feel so well?

By 22nd November 2019 No Comments

A photo of Community Garden in autumn

Do we feel different when we are in nature? This is a question which people have been asking themselves and the answer that most people know from personal experience is yes. Spending time outside offers a break from your usual day to day grind at the office, in the kitchen or generally in the house. But are there actually any benefits to being outside? And are these impacts only on me because I enjoy being outside or are these impacts universal?

A growing body of the scientific community are preaching the positive impact of anything between 15 minutes a day in a green space (for example in a park, forest or garden) to 120 minutes a week. Nature exposure has shown to further along prisoner rehabilitation, making them more productive members of society upon release. It has also been shown to improve the grades of children, especially in their primary school times. There is no denying that spending time in nature is beneficial to every individual. The question now is, why? Why do we feel better when we spend time in the outdoors?

It is a well known fact that exercising releases endorphins-those “feel good” hormones. Individuals tend to exercise more when they are in the outdoors. But apparently, according to Chorong Song and his team, in 2016, found that nature exposure focuses on something called salutogenesis. This means that, rather than curing and supporting the body of any illness, it boosts the immune system to prevent any oncoming disease. So by supporting the immune system, a person would feel better. But what does this involve? To this question, there is no one simple answer. There are multiple ways of applying the nature exposure principles. These include forest therapy-which involves the conscious use of all the senses in a forest environment with the intent of relaxing, olfactory stimulation (fancy way of saying “smelling and breathing through the nose”), visual stimulation and tactile stimulation (“feeling with any exposed skin”). Most of these types of therapy have shown to decrease the heart rate, decreased stress hormones and just generally helped people feel more relaxed.

So what does this mean in relation to the community garden? Well, as a communal living space, it offers you the space to interact with nature and have a “break” from your daily routine. The community garden offers various factors as previously mentioned. The curry plant and its smell hits you down the path, while the sights and colours from various flowers that will bloom in their own time, offer a sight for concrete-induced sore eyes. Furthermore, the community garden thrives on all kinds of people from different backgrounds interacting and volunteering with it. So if you want to have a convenient place that boosts your immune system and have easy ways of impacting your immune system, then paying the community garden a visit is highly recommended.

Kaleb

Kaleb

I am a fourth year student at the University of Dundee and I am investigating the impacts of nature on well being and any other contributing factors for my dissertation. I work alongside a Gate Carbon Saving Project project in Dundee. In my free time I enjoy a good dose of Netflix as well as taking a relaxing run.

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