Nature is quickly becoming the medical answer to many of our modern ills.
Doctors around the world are now actively writing “nature prescriptions” for ailments from chronic conditions to a cascade of lifestyle diseases, such as:
- Mental health
- Immune health
- Sleep disorders
- Physical inactivity
- Cardiovascular health
To name a few. Depending on where you live a doctor may write a “green prescription” for getting into the woods or a “blue prescription” for enjoying the water.
Health care providers, parks, academia, oh my
With hundreds of studies now documenting the ability of Nature to restore health and well being, a small non-profit, Park Rx America, has emerged to connect health care providers, park agencies, academia and research in developing nature prescription programs across the country.
Both the United States and Canada have national nature prescription initiatives. New Zealand was the first in the late 1990s and it’s become an established part of the government’s health offering. Programs have also been developed in the UK, Finland, South Korea, and of course, in forest-bathing Japan.
Thank Covid for a lot of that new interest.
In fact, new research published last year from the University of Tokyo suggests the benefits of spending time in nature are more powerful than previously believed.
Why do we have to make Nature all about us?
I love this because I can now accurately say that Nature is the answer to virtually everything that ails us and point to study after study to prove it.
Honestly though, treating Nature as a “pill, dose, prescription, therapy, fix” or “prescription” makes me cringe. It separates humans even further from nature and reinforces the cultural bias that Nature exists solely for our use and betterment.
But the uber-practical side of me understands we have to meet people where they’re at.
If the only realistic way they’ll get outside is to have a doctor hand them a piece of paper that instructs them to take their body outdoors a specific number of times per week for a specific number of hours, so be it.
In fact, if you think a nature prescription would be a useful forcing mechanism to get your booty outside more, you can download, print and fill out a form here. Take it to your doctor and get his approval, if you need it.
Otherwise, lead by example. Get your green or blue today.
3 Resources for You
‘From Magic Mushrooms to Big Pharma’ – a college course explores nature’s medicine cabinet and different ways of healing From the legalization of cannabis to increased research on “non-traditional” drugs. (Oh, the arrogance.)
The Park Rx America website is a treasure trove of great information. Recommended reading and links to numerous studies on the human benefits of Nature.
Awe An app for nature connection. I have this one my phone but haven’t played with it yet. If you do, let me know what you think.
2 Questions for You
Reflections, questions and ideas to break the digital spell.
1st Q: Does calling Nature a pill, therapy, dose or prescription change your attitude or relationship with Nature?
2nd Q: Has your doctor given you a green or blue prescription?
Hit reply and let me know what you discovered this week. I’ll use some of your feedback in next week’s newsletter (first name only.)
From Darien: Has the economy and inflation forced you to stay home more or cut back on outdoor time?
I wouldn’t say the economy or inflation has “forced” me to stay at home more. I recently chose to quit my full-time job to spend more time at home because it allowed me to have more time in nature. I have a fantastic deep backyard full of trees, plant diversity, and small animals – a diversity of birds, squirrels, rabbits, opossums, and the occasional wandering cat.
We have a gazebo under which we can partake of shaded breezes, watch the creatures, hear the leaves move with the wind, and walk barefoot through the grass and clover. I know that I was fortunate to be able to make this happen. As I’ve grown older (late 50s and firmly in the Native Analogs), I’ve found myself spending more and more time outside when possible, even though much of it is at home.
The way corporate employment is set up, inside for a minimum of 8 hrs per day, I think the work model needs to be addressed. A number of studies over the years have concluded that 5-6 hr workdays with retained salaries (paid as if working 40 hrs/wk) had a number of health and productivity benefits.
I don’t believe most corporations will ever want to go to that model, though, as long as they can use up people and spit out their husks. How that relates to screen time and people choosing to be home and online all the time, I don’t know. Maybe because I’m a Native Analog. 🙂
1 Action for You
One small step to start the change.
Don’t wait for your doctor (unless you have a contraindicated health condition.)
Write your own Nature prescription: 2 hours tech-free outside every week. All at one time or 17 minutes for 7 days. More as tolerated.
Hit reply, let me know how it goes and I’ll include feedback in next week’s newsletter.
“We can never have enough of nature.” Henry David Thoreau