English writer Edward Forster wrote the disturbing story “The Car Stops” in 1909. He painted a picture of the future: people spend their entire lives in isolated underground rooms, communicating with each other through devices that resemble modern smartphones. Everyone worships the Machine, which provides everything necessary for survival, but prevents personal communication and contact with nature.
Hmm. It would seem that this is just a fantasy, but here’s the reality: a 2018 survey of 2,000 Canadians showed that 87% of respondents in nature feel happier, healthier and more productive. But three quarters of them (75%) said that despite everything, it is easier for them to stay indoors. So we became an indoor species even without the omnipotent Machine.
It is obvious that it is useful to communicate with nature, but we had no idea how much. Scientists have accumulated a lot of data confirming that nature can become an effective and completely free medicine for many diseases of the 21st century. Here are some facts from the book “Brainwashing” about what happens while we walk.
Nature boosts our mood with the help of the sun. When its rays fall on the skin, the body produces vitamin D, which is important for many biological processes, including directly related to the ability of the brain to produce serotonin. A lack of vitamin D can contribute to depression. To improve mood, drugs are most often prescribed to increase the amount of serotonin in the body. However, there are studies suggesting that simply increasing your vitamin D levels is also great for improving mood. Sunlight allows you to do this.
Nature has anti-inflammatory properties. This conclusion has been supported by many studies. A 2012 experiment measured the differences in markers of stress and inflammation in the blood of college students sent either to the forest or to the city. Before the experiment, laboratory data showed no significant difference for the two groups. But after two nights in the forest or in the city, everything began to look completely different.
Grabbing a tent and heading into the forest is a great weekend idea. – Source
In the “forest” group, the level of inflammation markers TNF-α (an increase in the level causes alertness in relation to oncology, clinical depression, psoriasis, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.) and interleukin-6 (an increase is associated with cancer and sudden death from senile diseases) significantly dropped compared to the “urban” group.
In the “forest” group, the level of both endothelin-1, a marker of inflammation in vascular diseases, and cortisol, which is involved in the destruction of connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, were lowered.
The brain starts to work better
One study from 2012 involved a group of 56 men and women engaged in creative work. The experimenters found that “four days of immersion in nature and the corresponding separation from multimedia and technology increases productivity [of creative problem solving] by 50%.”
The positive impact of nature on the ability to concentrate and concentrate has long been recorded. There is even a theory of attention restoration, developed by psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in an era of rapid technological development, increased indoor activity and concern about the lack of contact with nature. The Kaplanov theory puts forward the hypothesis that nature not only hones our ability to concentrate and concentrate, but also helps to restore attention after wasting psychic energy – for example, after sleepless nights over some project.