Part of the national health insurance and health care program in Japan includes nature. Miles of nature trails have been protected, developed, and designated by the government as part of the national curriculum for health care. An ancient practice called “tree bathing” has brought Japanese citizens to their local forests for centuries, giving them time to walk through the trees, breathe in the fresh forest air, and replenish their souls. You read that right. An entire country is prescribed time in nature the same way they are told to eat balanced meals, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly.
In other countries, schools for grade school aged children take place outdoors. More time than recess on a cement playground is spent outside. At one time in America, spending time outdoors was valued as a necessity rather than a luxury commodity. Nature researcher, enthusiast, and author Florence Williams explains to Grist.org that it’s part of the science of being a human in nature to remember the great outdoors is right outside, available, and makes us feel better. Williams explains that “The science has shown that, although we think we like nature, we undervalue how much it helps us — how good it makes us feel. There’s this vicious cycle: We don’t spend enough time in nature to let us know how good it makes us feel, and then because we don’t know how good it makes us feel we don’t spend enough time in nature.”
Studies have been released detailing the positive effect spending time outdoors can have on mental health. From depression to addiction to body image issues, spending quality time in nature can reduce negativity and increase positivity. Some studies have focused on “green areas” discovering that just being able to see green trees, bushes, and grass, can have a significant impact on someone’s well being. Other studies like the groundbreaking Blue Mind have driven deep into the neuroscience of water and its effect on humans, right down to the way health companies use the color blue to create a sense of calm. Being in, near, or around water can balance your pH levels and bring you to a more natural state.
John Muir, the pioneer explorer who helped found the National Parks system was no stranger to the healing properties of nature. Lakehouse Recovery Center is located on beautiful Lake Sherwood surrounded by hills and mountains with private access to the lake. We hold twelve step meetings on our boat and help clients take full advantage of our beautiful natural surroundings. Our residential programs are focused on help clients heal from addiction and l