You’ve probably noticed that being in a park or walking along a path in the woods recharges you. Living in the Rogue Valley we’re fortunate to have beautiful parks and trails available to us to reconnect with nature.
But you may not realize just how important trees are to your health…
Recent studies have been examining this and their finding may surprise you. For example, a study in the journal Scientific Reports showed that an additional ten trees on a given block corresponded to a one-percent increase in how healthy nearby residents felt.
The lead researcher, psychology professor Marc Berman explained, “To get an equivalent increase with money, you’d have to give each household in that neighborhood ten thousand dollars—or make people seven years younger.” (Click here to read the entire article in the New Yorker magazine.)
Of course trees are good for the environment, which is good for us. But what’s fascinating is that you can benefit by simply looking at a tree.
This may be due to the difference between our “voluntary” and “involuntary” attention. We have finite reserves of voluntary, directed attention and modern day life depletes those reserves quickly.
Researchers believe the natural environment relaxes us because it captures our involuntary attention. Leaves moving in the wind, a bubbling creek or the shape of a gnarled branch captures our eye and our attention follows. This three-dimensional geometry of nature elicits a spacious calming response.
So what does this mean for you? If possible, spend some time outside every day. A quick walk in nature at the end of the day will restore you better than a cup of coffee. If you have a tree visible from your window looking at it will provide health benefits that money just can’t buy!
Your optimism challenge:
Spend time outside enjoying nature instead of grabbing for a snack or cup of coffee.
Share your feedback, questions or comments at healthyoptimism.com/contact.