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People who took walks among trees saw a 20% increase in memory-functions compared to people who took walks in a city
What did you do yesterday? This isn’t a trick question, take a moment to think about it. You probably woke up in your own bed and made breakfast in your kitchen, or, if you were really in a rush, picked it up on your drive to work. Maybe a few had some time to exercise, and many of us didn’t. Maybe you picked up your kids or walked your dog, maybe you just watched TV. You may have read a book or finished a crossword puzzle. If we took a survey of 100 people, they would have accomplished thousands of different activities. What’s the one thing that 99 out of 100 people were missing in their lives yesterday?
A connection to nature.
We know you may have heard this before, perhaps it’s a well-worn trope – but bear with us, we promise it’s worth it. For starters, the facts back us up, and the impact this lack of nature is having on your life is important to understand. Our lives are built around industry, construction, efficiency, and production. This is conducive to the things we need to get done: work, commuting, errands. It’s all too easy to forget we are animals first, the product of millions of years of evolution and growth in an environment that was much, much different from the urban world we live in today. Our nature and instincts were shaped around the natural world, where our basic needs for food, water, and shelter a constant priority. Because of this, many of our basic functions and primal instincts can only be satisfied by the triggers they evolved around. Here are some examples:
• One study tested for differences in memory between two groups: one group took a walk in an urban setting and one group took a walk among trees. They then tested a variety of their memory functions and found the nature-walking group performed 20% better than their urban-walking counterparts.
• Healthy adults AND people suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (commonly called “depression”) saw significant increases in memory span, memory function, and improvements in mood after taking nature walks.
• In an office space, the sight of trees significantly improves job satisfaction scores and decreases job stress measures.
• The sight of the color green has been demonstrably shown to increase mental activity, creativity, and free association.
We could go on, but you're probably wondering: “What does all this mean for me?” Well, we believe that there is an innate relationship between a one’s connection to the natural world and personal well-being, fulfillment, and happiness. This connection is a deep and vital component of life for every human being, and it has largely been neglected, overlooked, or forgotten in modern conversation. Our society dove headfirst into modern science, medicine, and industry over the last centuries, and the advancements in medicine and science have provided us with countless wonders.
We’re very fortunate to live in the times we do. But the potentially negative impacts of our industry-driven, urbanized style of living are worth taking a closer look at. The explosive growth of cities, suburbs, and metropolitan areas have brought almost all of our daily needs to our doorsteps, but hasn’t this also separated us farther from the natural world? The same natural world we just read about all the benefits of above? And our advancements and increased knowledge have been largely good, yes, but maybe they’ve also imparted in us a hubris and disdain for the “old” wisdom of traditional people and ancient cultures – who learned many of their lessons over generations of living in the nature around them.
The Helper’s Mentoring Society hopes to challenge these concepts; we believe there is a wealth of unique value and knowledge in traditional ceremonial practices like nature connection, as well as in the simple everyday customs like nature walks or journaling as the sun sets. We aim to provide everyone with the knowledge needed to have a conversation about these topics, and hopefully to find the value in them for yourself. You may just find that this was the piece of the puzzle you were missing.