Benefits of Nature
I remember times when I was young where staying inside was not enough. I had to get outside. I had plenty of video games and toys to play with, but going outside was a must for me. If I wasn’t outside training to turn into a super Saiyan like on Dragon Ball Z, I was playing basketball; if I wasn’t playing ball, I was just walking around, or sitting on my porch.
I was fortunate enough to live across the street from a big field. I would sometimes go to the field just to think. People thought I was a random character because if I wasn’t over there by myself, I was over there with my friends, who were younger than me, training. People thought I was random because where I grew up, 15 is the age where you put childish things behind, and get into more mature things, but I didn’t. I embraced those “childish things” at 15, 16, and even 17.
There was this giant bush looking tree that was deep into the field that produced these big grapes that had seeds in them. I was amazed when I found out about that grape tree. For some reason it awakened me more to nature.
It is sad to say that that tree nor the field is there anymore.
The entire field has been destroyed and turned into a large factory. Every time I pass the field, I am filled with good memories, but disappointment as well. I feel sorry for the kids growing up in my old neighborhood because they will never experience all the good times me and my friends experienced playing in that field.
Nature is an important part in growing up, and it is important for mankind in general. Nature has many benefits, and one of those benefits is a bacterium named Mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae). M. vaccae is said to decrease anxiety, and increase brain function.
A study conducted by Dorothy Matthews and Susan Jenks at the sage Colleges in Troy, found that when this bacterium is given to mice, it helped them navigate a maze twice as fast, and with less anxiety. M. vaccae can be absorbed simply by going outside where there is soil.
Stress. Stress is deadly, and can open the door for many illnesses. People take pills for stress, some workout, but, again, nature can relieve stress. Yoshifumi Miyazaki,
“Director of the Center for Environmental Health and Field Sciences at Chiba University, and Japans leading scholar on ‘forest medicine,’ conducted a study of 260 people in twenty-four sites across Japan found that, among people who gazed on forest scenery for twenty minutes, the average concentration of salivary cortisol, a stress hormone, was 13.4% lower than that of people living in urban settings.” – The Nature Principle by Richard LouvI was raised in what is known as “the hood.” I cant tell you how many times I heard someone say something like, “look at the conditions our people live in. You walk outside and everything look dead.” It is true. Everything looks bad.
Since I got into gardening and seeking to understand nature more, I would say to myself, “If black people could live in or at least visit a beautiful natural forest or landscape regularly, it may help decrease all the violence.” I thought about that for a long time, and after reading about Frances Kuo and her colleagues at the University of Illinois who studied the negative impact of de-natured life on human health and well being, my theory may be true. Kuo says,
“In animals, what you see is increased aggression, disrupted parenting patterns, and disrupted social hierarchies.” They, Kuo and her colleagues, have noted decreased civility, more aggression, more property crime, more loitering, more graffiti, and more litter, as well as less supervision of children outdoors. Kuo says, “We might call some of that ‘soil nesting,’ which is not healthy. No organism do that when they’re in good shape. In our studies, people with less access to nature show relatively poor attention or cognitive function, poor management of major life issues, and poor impulse control.” – The Nature PrincipleIt is noted by the Children & Nature Network that only 6% of children 9-13 play outside on their own…That is terrible.
What does all this mean? It means that nature is a beneficial part of mankind that we are substituting with more concrete jungles and more technology.
How can we change this? Make time for nature. Put your children on a schedule saying how much time they can spend playing video games and watching TV. If your children are in their teens, ask them to take a walk with you, or go to a local park to just talk. Nature’s benefits are free, and for all, we just have to embrace them.