10 Ways The Forests Heal Us
The forest is often described to us in fairy tales and books as a wonderful place full of magic and wonder. However, the general views of forests are just that they are just areas of trees that one shouldn’t wonder into alone for fear of being isolated and vulnerable. Remarkably, new studies are showing, however, that forests could be the magical places that we are all led to believe due to their healing natures on the human bodies. Below are the top 10 ways that forests can be used to heal us.
1. Refresh your body and lungs.
According to the World Health Organization, pollution and exposure to loud noises are the biggest threats to health that we deal with in our modern societies. Most urban places are bombarded with noise from thousands of people carrying on with their daily lives. They are also generally highly polluted from cars, factories, and due to such a large concentration of humans living together. Visiting a forest is a great way to get your body away from all the noise and pollution. It allows your body to cleanse itself with fresh, natural air. It also allows your body to wind down from the constant noise that it encounters it by replacing the harsh, loud sounds of life with soft, calming sounds of nature.
2. The heart and other organs relax and heal faster.
According to a recent study done in Finland, being in the forest reduces your heart rate and helps your other organs heal themselves. By taking your body out of its usual environment and into a calm and serene forest setting, your body automatically ‘slows down’ and does not have to work as hard to keep you alert and moving. This gives all your major organs a chance to get some rest and heal themselves where they need to.
3. Stress relief.
Visiting such a calm and relaxing area such as a forest is proven to reduce the amount of stress felt by an individual. It enables them to think of their surroundings instead of their usual daily to-do list and helps the mind to relax; causing a relief from stress and the symptoms experienced from acute stress.
4. Help your brain realign.
According to a study done at the University of Sheffield, being in a natural, peaceful setting has restorative effects in helping your brain make order out of chaos. Man-made objects such as infrastructure and cities confuse the brain and could cause disruptions to the connections in our brains. Being in a forest, however, has shown restoration to these disruptions as the brain realigns itself to work more in sync.
5. Forests can cause an increase in short-term memory and recognition.
A study by Marc G. Berman has shown that people who walk through a forest or other natural area are 20% more likely to remember things that they were beforehand occupied with than people walking down a city street. Due to the calming nature of the forest, as well as the relief from stress and ‘business’, participants in the study performed better when asked to recount what they were busy with prior to their nature walk.
6. Boost mental creativity.
In our society we are often distracted by ringing cell phones, sirens outside our windows, or loud sounds from other people. This can stifle creativity as it is constantly interrupted in its planning process. Spending some time in a forest can boost creativity by allowing more focus on what needs to be accomplished.
7. Physical Strength improvement.
While many people try to get their daily exercise in at gym or by jogging around their neighborhood, they are still stifled by their gyms air-conditioning system or by their city’s pollution. Spending time walking, hiking, or cycling through a forest is a great way to get your body the natural exercise it needs to help boost physical strength.
8. Provides a disconnect.
We live in a digital time where being away from your screen is often unheard of. Spending time in a forest allows a disconnect from our ‘technological selves’ and allows us to ‘reboot’ ourselves and get away from all the harmful effects to our body of constantly being connected.
9. Improves trust and relationships.
Going into a forest with friends or family is a great way to heal relationships between people. It places everyone in a natural, neutral environment where all parties are away from the stress of live and can spend time bonding, strengthening, and healing hurt relationships. This provides emotional and social healing and can work wonders if you are suffering from depression or lonliness.
10. Provide mental perspective.
Being in nature and away from general living allows us the chance to take stock of ourselves and allows our brains to regain their mental perspective. Visiting a forest is always a good idea when needing to make a life altering decision. It allows us to gain a new view of the decision and allows our brain to more effectively come to a decision.