By: Shelley Long
Today’s activity is centered around nature. Within the past 10 years, there has been a rise in research on the therapeutic benefits of connecting with nature. A team of researchers from the University of Exeter conducted a large study including 20,000 people to investigate whether or not nature provided measurable health benefits. The findings have shown that people who spend an average of 2 hours a week in nature or green spaces were far more likely to report good physical health and well-being than those who don’t.
Some measured benefits of spending time in nature included; lowered blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduced nervous system arousal, enhanced immune system function, reduced anxiety, and improved mood.
Although public parks and beaches are currently closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, there are still other ways to connect with nature. If you are privileged enough to have access to a yard, try to spend some time in it and draw/paint/sketch a tree, shrub or spring growth (while practicing safe social distancing ). If you are living in an apartment and your access to green spaces is limited, drawing/ painting and spending time with your houseplants have shown to have similar therapeutic benefits as spending time in green spaces.
There have been several studies that suggest that simply viewing nature in film or an image can reduce stress and improve mood. Dr. Lori Ryenold’s and her team of researchers have found that dementia patients demonstrated a decline in anxiety through heart rate measures and reported an increase in pleasure after exposure to a virtual nature experience. So, If you don’t own houseplants and you don’t have a yard space, that’s okay! Find a picture of nature that you connect with and create some art inspired by the image.
We would love to see your nature creations – please share your art with us on our facebook page “ Arts & Health Antigonish!” I’ll go first: