Every summer we make sure and get a week at the north coast. There’s so much excitement about Barry’s Amusements (of course), the ice creams, the caravan park and the many play parks but for me its all about getting my feet in the sea and feeling the sand between my toes, connecting with nature!
There’s something so restorative and calming about feeling the sea swirling about you, no matter how ‘baltic’ it can be here! Feeling the sea air fill your lungs, and that sound… for me. That’s me in my happy place and I am determined at some stage in my life to live by the sea and as close as I can get to it at that. Imagine going to sleep and waking up to the sound of the waves, being able to open your windows and breathe in that sea air every single day, heavenly!
I know for some people they feel the same about being in a forest, feeling the twigs snap under foot, looking up to see the sunlight sneak down between the branches towering above you and smelling that fresh unmistakable smell of being submerged in nature…. Even writing about it makes me want to hop in the car and go!
The technical term for that beautiful feeling is called ‘eco-therapy’. The only reason I’m putting a ‘name’ to it is because there have been large scale surveys carried out both in the Netherlands and the UK which have shown that individuals living in urban areas with more green space have lower rates of mental health distress and are more satisfied with life than those living in areas with less green space. Other studies show that exposure to natural environments reduce negative emotions – including anger, anxiety, and sadness. Even viewing images of nature or looking at natural environments from a window can reduce stress, enhance recovery from illness, and improve mood.
In 1982 Japan introduced ‘forest bathing’ as part of their national public health programme. It has been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing. And I love their ideas of what ‘forest bathing’ is; Just be with trees. No hiking, no counting steps on a Fitbit. You can sit or meander, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything. Now I’m sure there are wonderful benefits to going to the forest and doing all the fore mentioned too but I just like that their idea of ‘forest bathing’ and all its benefits are available to most of us, no matter what our situation.
Looking into the facts and figures and even learning of the name ‘eco-therapy’ has been fascinating but isn’t it just lovely to know that most of us naturally crave that? Our bodies knowing deep down what they need and what makes us feel better…. I just think that alone is uplifting and inspiring.