“Why is Exposure to Nature So Good for Kids (and Adults)?” = Naturally Human

In an international study from International Journal of Environmental Health and Public Health: a word about nature and mental health. Humans, especially children, need to be out in nature regularly. An article about this research is linked below by Emma Betuel. The article also links to the original NIH research.

Evelina Hondje and Laarse

Evelina with Hondje and Laarse

“Scientists Discover a Major Lasting Benefit of Growing Up Outside the City”

by Emma Betuel for inverse

“What we found is that the childhood experience of green space can actually predict mental health in later life,” Nieuwenhuijsen says. “The people that reported more exposure to nature actually have better mental health than those that don’t even after we adjust for exposure at the time of the interview, when they are adults.”

“Polluted cities, in particular, seem to extract additional tolls on health and may actually impact cognitive development in children.” Retrieved; April 15, 2020.

There was a time not long ago, when every Autumn I made a yearly pilgrimage to the local apple orchards to pick or buy apples. When I was still working in the public school, I told one of my young women students that I went apple picking one weekend. She looked at me as if I was a strange person. There I stood smiling and feeling good after a day in the outdoors. “Why?” She asked with a great show of you-must be-stupid expression on her face. My reply, “Because it’s fun!” Left her with a skeptical expression on her face.

Stating the obvious, you can read that I remember the encounter with an inner city student. At once, I realized that a trip to the countryside was not high on a teenage female’s agenda, but I also suspected that it was as foreign an idea to go outside the city’s boundaries as not going was to me. (Cultural differences are everywhere.) I was sad for this young woman, whom I knew suffered from depression. She was very bright and good at math, but she was city tough.

Over the years, I have seen how people in our society are disconnected from nature. The attitude that I encountered in business is that Nature is something to use, modify or destroy for personal gain. As human beings on a living planet we are unconscious, most of the time, to our own place in the world around us. We take it for granted. People fear nature’s power  – like the earthquakes, storms, and volcanoes and any number of natural disasters that destroy lives. It is terrifying.

Natures destructive power reminds me that we are small creatures as much a part of the ecosystem as the smallest amoeba. Civilization and all it’s wonders can only buttress our illusions that the environment is separate from us. We are not separate from the living planet.

Being in nature can foster an understanding of our place on earth. Nature’s grandeur with its untold wonders is the source of our existence. More and more I believe and hope that people will learn to respect the power of mother earth and connect to the part of us that is who we are in nature. I am not pessimistic.

The online article by Emma Betuel and the research paper from NIH talks about the benefits of being outside in nature is for brain development in children and as a source for mental health and for healing for adults too. Preserving cities’ green space is so important. I am lucky to live in Minneapolis with its many parks and beautiful lakes.

Currently, approximately half of the world’s population lives in cities, and it is predicted that by 2050, nearly 66% of people will live in urban areas worldwide (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2015). Urban areas are characterized by a network of nonnatural built-up infrastructures where residents often have limited access to natural environments (Escobedo et al. 2011)” NIH  Retrieved; April 15, 2020.

 

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen.

Have a peaceful day wherever you may be.

 

About kunstkitchen

Visual artist and writer hunting words, languages, visions, and insight in my kitchen - connecting Art (Kunst) and culture and slow food cooking. Classically trained artist. Paint and draw with traditional materials. Live in the Northland where it's six months of winter. Appreciate the little things in life. Sharing food and art experiences and the lessons that my talented and generous friends have given me.
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