Trend: Tree hugging is good for you
‘Children can now name more Pokéman than animal species,’ noted Dr. Eva Selhub of the Benson-Henry Institute in Boston, on
Scary thought isn’t it?
Selhub was part of a guest panel called ‘Your brain on nature – heal the planet, heal the mind’ at the Green Living show in Toronto this past weekend. The panel discussed how important it is to stay connected with nature in our increasingly urbanized living and working environments.
Studies have praised ecotherapy – complementing modern medicine with the sounds, smells and physical presence of nature – with decreasing stress and anxiety. MRI scans have shown that images of greenery stimulate parts of the brain associated with love, emotional stability and empathy. Skyscrapers and highways on the other hand, stimulate parts of the brain associated with stress and fear.
Unfortunately not many of us have access to green spaces when we work in a concrete jungle. So how can we keep in tune with the great outdoors?
Visualization. Take meditative breaks during the day and visualize a positive experience in nature. You can do this while sitting at your desk, riding the subway or standing in the shower. Parents and teachers can encourage their kids to do this too, and eventually they will adopt it as a self-soothing mechanism.
Just 20 minutes a day outside gets more oxygen into your lungs and you don’t even need to be exercising. But make it a mindful experience, and keep the phone and ipod in your pocket.
‘Go hug a tree,’ says Selhub.
How do you stay connected with nature?
‘Amy Crofts, web intern