In today’s post, Discovery leader Tim Tully asks us a very important question.
What do parks mean to you?
This is most likely a question that has recently become more important.
One of the most obvious and acute needs in this period of physical isolation was a desperate desire to get out more. Specifically, to get out and be active in nature.
We don’t know exactly why it makes us feel better; he just does it.
It turns out that this is not a coincidence and do know why. Spending time in a natural place like a park has measurable benefits for physical and mental health.
Ontario parks are a place of natural healing.
Time to go
Studies have shown that spending five minutes in a forest is like a free prescription for better health.
Breathing fresh air takes on new meaning when we learn that some of the components of that air are made up of secondary chemicals released by trees.
Defensive compounds such as phytoncides, which have antifungal and antibacterial qualities, are the tree’s natural defense against insects. When inhaled by humans, studies in Japan have shown that the secondary chemicals can also stimulate and strengthen our immune system.
We’ve all heard the cliché adjectives used to describe a natural space: peaceful, pastoral, tranquil, relaxing.
It turns out that these words are reflections of genuine health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and reducing stress-related hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
Studies have shown that participants who participated in forestry activities had lower scores on anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, and fatigue.
Exercising or simply sitting in a forest calms us down for the better!
Nature deficit disorder
In recent years we’ve also heard a lot about nature deficit disorder (a non-medical condition), which has affected a generation of young people who rarely venture beyond their virtual reality to physically explore the natural world around them. outside your door.
Research shows that a lack of connection to nature can lead to attention difficulties, reduced use of the senses, obesity, and higher rates of illness, both emotional and physical.
The overall tragic impact of this syndrome is the lack of ecological literacy at this time in history when we desperately need ecological understanding and appreciation.
A sweet escape
Have you ever found yourself happily declaring, “I’m going to leave it all behind”?
Your weekend or vacation aspirations likely celebrated the need to separate yourself from the daily challenges and business of your work and family life.
Hyperfocused attention for long periods produces something called directed attention fatigue. You feel mentally exhausted and need a break.
Spending time in nature allows us to declutter and give the overactive brain a rest, improving concentration and refreshing our patience levels.
The isolation experienced by many has magnified the pressures of daily existence and prevented us from accessing ways to de-stress.
A camping trip could be just what the doctor ordered to get back in sync!
I hope your past camping experiences have helped sustain you through these meandering days stuck at home.
Memories of a family campfire, swimming, canoeing, a bike ride, walking on a trail, seeing another animal in a place where it lives; It puts this human crisis into perspective.
We need the vitality and constancy of nature. In fact, on some level it restores us and makes us feel whole again.
Who knows what future physical and mental health studies will reveal about the benefits of being in natural spaces?
For now, just being in your favorite provincial park is enough. It’s not a cure-all or a cure-all, but it helps.
The Wendat are part of the Huron-Wendat Nation, an indigenous nation whose current reserve is located in Wendake, Quebec. Historically, the homeland of the Wendat was in southern Georgian Bay, where they lived between the years 1200 and 1650. Contemporary European accounts from the early 17th century noted that the Wendat did not separate themselves from the wild.
Nature permeated all aspects of his daily and spiritual life.
It reported its seasonal existence. As an agricultural people, the Wendat recognized the fundamental truth that, as people, we are dependent on and intimately intertwined with natural cycles.
The park where I work, Awenda, is translated from the Wendat language as “voice” and “word.” With a little twist he becomes Hawendio or “Creator.”
Awenda is aptly named.
We are ready to return.
Coming to a park is in itself an act of faith and hope. The positive experiences gained can reconnect you and your family to a more meaningful and healthy future.
The next time you’re out walking through a forest cathedral or sheltering from the forest canopy at your campsite, perhaps taking in a stunning coastal view or admiring the behavior of the park’s wildlife, stop and pause for a moment. .
If our current situation has taught us anything, it is that we are indebted and dependent on this increasingly fragile natural world.
We need provincial parks now more than ever.
Healthy Parks Healthy People Day is Friday, July 17, 2020. Enjoy a day of free use at your local provincial park and experience the health benefits of spending time in nature.