Nature: Your Own Chill Pill
Updated: Mar 26, 2021
:: Scenic Route 146 between Guilford and Branford, CT ::
See these photographs above? They are snapshots of my erstwhile daily commute to and from work on Route 146 – voted Connecticut’s best biking route ! As is true for many other types of jobs, my work as a physician is often highly stressful, demanding, and sometimes takes a toll on my body and mind.
This drive into the office every day was a peaceful and calming experience, and lately I have given great thought to the therapeutic benefit of my drive to work. So I wanted to share with you this little-known fact:
Interacting with nature has been scientifically proven to have measurable healing benefits!
In an interview conducted by Prevention Magazine, environmental psychologist Roger Ulrich discusses the results of a study, done in hospital settings, where patients’ view was either of a natural setting or a brick wall. The results: “Patients who saw nature needed less pain medication, suffered fewer post-op complications and were discharged faster than those who looked a brick wall” [during their stay].
What is the message for you? Get out and enjoy the outdoors! As early homo sapiens, we spent ALL of our time outside! Nature is ingrained into our psyches – and inhibiting that inherent human connection to the wilderness may be preventing you from enjoying all the health benefits that come with it!
Erik Peper, a Holistic Health Studies professor at San Francisco State University elaborates on this fact: “Nature reduces our stress on a biochemical level. It’s only when you interrupt the fight-or-flight response and make someone feel relaxed and safe that they can begin to regenerate and heal.”
So what is my weekend wisdom for you all? GO OUT AND SEE WHAT’S IN YOUR WORLD! Take a break from your news feeds, your email and your cell phone to check out local hiking trails, take a walk in your neighborhood or bring your dog to your favorite local scenic spot. Time away from our busy lives is extremely important for detaching from our stress levels and should not be taken for granted.
While it may be a short, 10-minute ride, I cherish my time on the road to work. I see all kinds of wildlife: osprey, great blue herons, egrets, fox, cows, deer…..oh my! I love to witness the cycles of life: The osprey have mated and one particular pair, whose eggs were duds the last two years, have a fuzzy little baby right now! As I drive, rocky coast and lush marshland surround me on all sides – and I take the time during these moments to absorb the sights, sounds and smells. I have found, time and time again, that surrendering to the beauty of the outdoors lowers my stress level immensely before my demanding days in the office.
I encourage you all to do the same! Have a fabulous weekend!