Vitamin G: Greenspace
I’m sitting in my yard, early in the morning and watching as the finches are desperately trying to keep their domination status over the bird feeder. The red winged blackbirds are a force to be reckoned with…when they give off their lovely chirp, it’s a signal for all else to clear. The finches fly off, due to come back in a few moments when the coast is clear.
This gives me great joy to watch the birds eat and interact together. I never thought of myself as a bird lover, but after moving into a space with a yard and trees to host such creatures, it has become something I look forward to, being apart of everyday.
We often hear about the importance of being in nature, how it can reduce stress levels and promote tranquility. On some level we all know this to be true, but why? I recently came across some information about the notorious Vitamin G and I’d like to share.
Vitamin G is a fairly new title for the effects of being in “Green Space”…basically any nature setting. In this day in age, where we sometimes begin work before the sun rises and arrive home after is sets, we don’t get a chance to be apart of the day and the natural rhythms that flow with it.
One study analyzed recuperation rates of patients recovering from surgery. Over a 9-year period, the same surgery was monitored, preformed by the same doctors and nurses, eating the same foods, preformed in the same wing of the hospital with the same quality of care. What was different was that half of the patients had a window viewing a wooded nature area across from the hospital while the other half had a window that looked to a brick building. Those with the nature scenery had: a 75% improvement in post-op demeanor (noted by nurses), more than 40% reduction in pain medication use and a 10% faster recovery time. Pretty incredible…the only difference in the two groups was being able to see nature! The author of this study further went to do more work into stress responses and nature.
So what about the common individual and why they should keep nature as apart of their daily lives? Another study by Edward O. Wilson determined that the amount of green space within 3 km of your home was significantly correlated with measures of physical and mental health and inversely related to levels of stress. Whether it was a backyard, a local nature lot, a park…the more these individuals utilized time outside in these Green Spaces, the less stress and better health was experienced.
All of this points to something we all know. We feel good when we are outside or can be apart of nature in some way, even if it is looking through a window. It has grounding and soothing effects that are important in this day in age, when busyness and productivity are themes we are inundated with.
So, if you get a chance, step outside when you feel yourself needing some balance. Be still and watch it move and do its thing. Even if it involves finches and red winged blackbirds dueling it out for a spot at your bird feeder, it will bring a smile and connect you back with stillness and simplicity, something we can all use more of.
Ulrich R: View through a window may influence recovery from surgery, Science 224”4647): 420-1, 1984.
Wilson EO: Biophilia. Cambridge, 1984, Harvard University Press.