Sunday, November 13, 2016

the secret of the forest

Japan is an island of just 152,411 square miles. Within its borders, it packs a population of 127,288,419 people. That is a cozy 339 people per square mile compared to 84 people per square mile in the United States. You’d better hope they like their neighbors! Yet the Japanese have also set the example for peaceful living. In fact, they have made it an art.

Learning how to relax when you are constantly bumping shoulders with your neighbors is something even New Yorkers would appreciate. So how does a small country with high work expectations and ethics, maintain a happy and low stress population? They bathe.

If a tree falls in the middle of the forest, would anyone miss it? The simple answer to that would be maybe. If it was in the middle of the forest, no one might notice. If it is in the middle of Central Park, someone would eventually notice. As the populations in cities increase, so too does air pollution from transportation, various industries, and the process millions of people breathing, sweating, moving, and simply living. What difference can one tree make?

In a study done by the U.S. Forest Service, it was calculated that in the United States alone, trees save more than 850 lives a year, prevent acute respiratory symptoms 670,000 times, and improve the average air quality enough to put the health value at almost $7 billion each year. Of course, the higher the population numbers in cities, the more value trees can provide in those areas. But trees provide more than just improved air quality. New research has shown a possible link between urban forests and improved mental and physical health.

The grass, trees and flower gardens, in neighborhoods increases relationships between neighbors, gives families a sense of safety, and in public parks it encourages more adult supervision of children. Playing outside has also shown to reduce Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms, and helps children to develop. In cities with parks and other outdoor spaces for recreation and relaxation, there are higher rates of life satisfaction, reduced stress, and reduced negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, and anger.

In a country where people are literally living right on top of each other, the Japanese have always greatly appreciated spending time outside. They realized that spending time in nature, simply sitting among the trees doing nothing, or “forest bathing,” reduced blood pressure, decreased the production of hormones associated with stress, and improved immune systems. So significant were the benefits of forest bathing, that it quickly became a prescribed therapy.

The art of living isn’t just getting through each day, sometimes it is not letting the day get to you.

1 comment:

Thanks for stopping by and reading my words...

All comments are moderated, so they will not appear immediately.