Julie Adams is a policy analyst at the BC Ministry of Health.
She focuses on mental health promotion and works to improve the mental health of all British Columbians; including those that are currently living with a mental illness and those who are currently not.
Thanks for being today's guest blogger Julie!
Some readers may be familiar with a gin and tonic, but how about a “timber tonic”? No, it’s not another refreshing drink best served with a wedge of lime, just a catchy phrase that lends itself nicely to the growing body of research suggesting that people benefit from exposure to trees, forests and nature in general.
Here in BC, we’re lucky to have a natural environment that’s the envy of many around the globe. Getting out to enjoy it has numerous mental health benefits, including:
- reduced stress and elevated moods - the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feels of nature can have a calming effect and help our minds unwind
- improved quality of sleep - natural sunlight helps set the body's internal clock that tells us when to eat and sleep
- increased attentiveness and time for reflection - being out in nature gives your mind time to rest and think, to work out problems
- enhanced satisfaction - people with access to nearby natural settings have been found to be healthier overall than other individuals
The longer-term, indirect impacts of ‘nearby nature’ also include increased levels of satisfaction with one’s home, one’s job and with life in general.
Getting “back to nature” doesn’t have to involve strapping on a 80lb backpack, lathering up with sunscreen and huffing it up a mountain (although, if that’s your thing, hike on!), it can be as simple as sitting under a tree at a nearby park, working in the garden or exploring a local trail. Unlike gin and tonic, one needn’t be concerned with enjoying a “timber tonic” in moderation!
How Forest Bathing Can Heal