Nature seems to exude an intoxicating high that leaves one feeling lighter and at peace. We can lay our head down in the grass with our eyes closed and forget our agenda for a little while.
Daily stress seems more manageable when we are surrounded by beautiful scenery. Frances Kuo and her team found that people who have greenery outside their windows handle life pressures with more self-discipline and calmness (Kuo, Taylor & Sullivan, 2002). Additionally, living close to trees and grass leads to less crime and can even help alleviate ADHD symptoms.
Sullivan explains that nature has a gentle, soothing effect that relaxes our muscles as meditation does. Aggression tends to build up more when we are mentally exhausted and being around trees restores our relaxation levels and recharges our minds (Kuo & Sullivan, 2001). Our ability to concentrate depends on a relaxed and calm brain, and Kuo says that just looking out to the trees can help refocus the mind.
It has been thought that a genetic predisposition to mental illness can be brought out by the environment. While this can be argued, Kuo strongly believes in the healing power of nature. Though she has studies to back up her beliefs, all that's needed is to experience nature for oneself and see if it helps. Sometimes it is more practical to pop a pill in order to deal with life stresses, and not everyone lives in greenery. However, the studies' findings on aggression and ADHD are something to consider; perhaps living in nature versus a city aids in a better quality of life. Either way, incorporating some green into our lives is only to our benefit.
Try climbing a tree or taking walk in the park or a redwood forest if you're feeling up to it. Be your own guinea pig and see what happens to your mind when you experience nature.
*Image courtesy of Justin Katz (www.jkatzphoto.com)