Getting Back to Nature

article-img

Nature and good health are closely connected, as we know from scientific studies (as well as our own practice). Evidence suggests that exposure to natural environments can be associated with both mental and physical health benefits including lower levels of stress, reduced depression and anxiety, faster healing, and even a longer life.

In 1984, Robert S. Ulrich published his highly cited and well regarded study in the journal Science, demonstrated that gazing at a garden can speed healing from surgery, infections, and other ailments. Since then, green space design has been an important part of hospital design. Further investigation into this idea has recently shown that it may not be merely access to green spaces but also how natural the environment appears that matters most. A 2016 study found that participants perceived that gardens that were more visually appealing and natural looking seemed to have greater restorative potential than less visually appealing and less natural gardens.

Meanwhile, researchers at UC Irvine believe that awe induces a feeling of being diminished in the presence of something greater than oneself and triggers feelings of compassion, generosity, and connection. Study participants put in a grove of towering eucalyptus trees consistently reported feeling more invested in the greater good, having reduced the sense of self.