The reason dawned on me the other day as to why I enjoy spending so much time in my kitchen, working at the counter. My work area is mostly window, which looks out to our backyard; we have an unusually long backyard for a city. There are mature trees along the fence line, a garden splitting the yard in two, my favourite tree, a crabapple and at the very back, two more gardens. I doubt I would be so willing (and happy) to spend so much time in this room if there was wall instead of glass, or if there was concrete instead of yard on the other side.
N is for nature. There is a new vitamin in town which costs nothing, is easy to take, there’s no fear of messing up the dosage, and it is 100% natural! Welcome Vitamin N (nature).
Studies have shown that green spaces are good for both mental and physical well-being. Those who live in communities with green spaces tend to be more generous, optimistic, sociable, calm and trusting, irregardless of economic conditions. Surgery recovery is faster and the immune system is stronger when parks are frequented.
The biggest benefit, all of us could use, is the reduction in our levels of stress. A walk in the woods has a calming effect on our bodies (lowering blood pressure and regulating blood sugar) and on our minds improving our cognitive skills. We have long known the benefits of houseplants on our well-being, now we can amplify those benefits by stepping out the door and finding some green space.
Don’t live near a wooded area open for hikes? Weather has you shut indoors? Just can’t get away to stroll in the park? Get a plant, or two. Look at images of woods, green fields, meadows – change the screen saver to show a beautiful landscape. Get a coffee-table book filled with photos of green spaces to flip through. Even better, make your own album filled with photos of parks and green areas which you have visited (double benefit here, first having gone there, and then remembering the visit).
There are countless ways to make life more green and get the daily Vitamin N, all you need is your imagination, a pair of shoes and some grass. And if you need even more convincing, listen to the birdsong, if that isn’t enough to convince you of the positive effects of nature, I don’t know what is.