When we talk about earth, we don’t just mean soil – although any toddler will tell you making mud pies is a mood-booster! Earth refers to spending time in nature, enjoying green spaces, or The power of the elements exercising outdoors. And there’s plenty of evidence to show this element is vital for our health. It’s known to reduce stress, raise self-esteem, lower blood pressure, tackle depression, prevent negative thoughts, boost our immune system, and even push us to exercise harder than we would do in a gym.
Dr Lafina Diamandis, a GP specialising in lifestyle medicine(deiahealth.com), believes our environment has a huge impact on our behaviour and happiness levels. She says: “There are so many benefits to being outside, from the sunlight we need to produce vitamin D, to fractals [geometric patterns only found in nature] that have been shown to relieve stress, support sleep, aid digestion, and boost wellbeing.”
She often prescribes forest bathing, walking, Tai Chi, and gardening as activities to increase exercise levels, and “reap the benefits of being closer to nature”, too. But you don’t have to spend all your free time outdoors to feel the benefits. One study, by the University of Exeter, found that spending just two hours a week in nature is linked to feeling healthier and happier. “You can spread it over the course of a week or get it all in a single dose, it doesn’t really matter,” says lead author Mathew White. Even better, “just sitting on a bench will do,” adds Mathew. Sounds like the perfect excuse for a coffee break in the park.
The Dutch have an expression, uitwaaien, which doesn’t have a direct translation but means spending time in wild, windy weather, usually on a walk or bike ride. The idea is to replace ‘bad air’ with ‘good air’, leaving you refreshed and less stressed – we’d probably say to ‘blow away the cobwebs’.....continue reading here
Published: August, 2021
Words: Rosalind Ryan
Expert comments: Dr Lafina Diamandis