I tried the “Nature Cure”

As much as my mom bothers me to do so, I rarely care to step into the bug-infested outdoors. It does not appeal to me to walk around being eaten by bugs, burned by the sun, or frozen by a breeze. I would rather sit inside in the comfort of screened windows and temperature control. However, after reading an article in Reader’s Digest, I was intrigued enough to test nature’s healing effects on the mind. This past week, I conducted a mini experiment of my own to uncover how nature can benefit everyone.

The article, by Florence Williams, told the story of his own journey of nature healing with the help of David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah. The group of 22 students plus Williams went backpacking in some canyons near Bluff, Utah to test out Strayer’s “three-day effect.” The premise is that after three days in the wilderness, without the use of any technology, the brain restores itself and improves mental performance. Additional research conducted lately proved that even living close to a park with green space improves the population’s general state of mind.

To test this out myself, I took a walk with senior Kristina Powlen in the half an hour between school and play practice. My goal was to soak in the sun enough to boost my energy before returning indoors. She and I simply walked from the front doors of the school around the Hillcrest housing addition and back again. Kristina stated, “I’d say it was peaceful and fun. It kinda felt like a miniature adventure: something different that you don’t normally do.” It is good to note that she was unaware, at the time, of my experiment. For myself, I noticed myself physically and mentally relaxing after a long day of sitting at a desk. We were able to step out of the artificial environment and into the real vitality of nature. I found the walk so enjoyable that we did the same thing the next day. Again, the effects were tangible in the general well-being that came from breathing in fresh air and exposing myself to natural light. The walk renewed us both for another long two hours hidden from daylight.

Less than a quarter of American adults say they spend 30 minutes or more outside every day. It is sad to me that so many of us are missing out on the power of being outside. Lisa Nisbet, an assistant professor of psychology at Canada’s Trent University, said, “People underestimate the happiness effect [of being outdoors]. We don’t think of it as a way to increase happiness. We think other things will, like shopping or TV. It’s strange we’d be so disconnected.” I urge you to step outside your home or school for even half an hour, even if there are bugs. Set down your phone and immerse yourself in that wide open place we take for granted every day. I can guarantee that you will be doing your brain a huge favor.


If you would like to read the original Reader’s Digest article, you can find that link here.

This is the original article I read plus the note my mom left for me.