How Trees Reduce Stress
There’s good reason some people call for everyone to “reconnect” with nature. It’s good for your health. Modern society is glued to our LED screens. While you don’t have to reject modern amenities, the occasional detox can have a seriously positive impact.
You may not even have to leave your urban or suburban space. Research from the University of Wisconsin found that if you live near green spaces, it can lower stress, anxiety and depression.
Maybe the most intriguing outcome was "A poor person living on a logging road in (a national forest) was more likely to be happy than a wealthier person living on a treeless block in Milwaukee," said researchers.
A 2013 study from Edinburgh used real-time data from technology that analyzes brain wave patterns. Participants started a mile and a half walk through an area with plenty of pedestrians and buildings, then moved onto greener space. They ended in a very busy and with heavy traffic. When examining was the green spaces lowered brain fatigue.
Green spaces have also been connected to improved performance and concentration in children with attention deficit issues.
Japanese Forest Bathing
We often look eastward for ancient tried-and-true wisdom for ways improve our health. Forest bathing, dubbed the shinrin-yoku plan by the Japanese Forest Agency, is defined as “taking in, in all of our senses, the forest atmosphere.”
A Japanese study involving 24 forests found that people who walked through the wooded areas saw levels of the stress hormone cortisol decrease by nearly 16 percent more than comparable walks in an urban environment. Blood pressure improved within 15 minutes. Maybe most interestingly, breathing in phytoncides, which are emitted by plants, “reduces stress hormones, indirectly increasing the immune system's ability to kill tumor cells," says Tokyo-based researcher Qing Li, MD, PhD.
If you’re on an urban dweller, try to make nature trips a part of your life.
“People with less access to nature are more prone to stress and anxiety, as reflected not only [in] individuals’ self-report but also [in] measures of pulse rate, blood pressure, and stress-related patterns of nervous system and endocrine system anxiety, as well as physician-diagnosed anxiety disorders,” wrote Frances Kuo, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.