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Study Finds Living Near Trees Comes With 6 Surprising Health Benefits

Study Finds Living Near Trees Comes With 6 Surprising Health Benefits

How healthy is it for you when you live near trees or there are a few outside your house or block, if you are lucky? Can trees really improve your physical and mental health? There are numerous studies which confirm that living near trees or forests is almost certainly the best medicine.

1. Living near trees helps you breathe better

Did you know that all the trees in the USA actually reduced air pollution by 17.4 million tonnes in just one year? They did this because the leaves absorb a lot of the air pollutants that can cause respiratory diseases in humans. Let’s plant more trees and protect the ones we have. The more trees the better!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

The USDA Forest Services confirmed the health benefits by a doing a lot of interesting and much needed research on this. In spite of the fact that this cleaning up of the air took place in rural areas, the health benefits were felt over the whole nation. The USDA estimated that death from poor air quality was reduced by 850 and that cases of severe respiratory were reduced by 670,000.

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India has decided to tackle their air pollution by planning to plant 2 billion trees along the nation’s highways. Not only will that help to improve the awful air quality and benefit the health of its citizens but will also give employment to 300,000 young people. Way to go.

2. Living near trees can save our lives

Let me tell you about a beetle which kills off ash trees. It is called the emerald ash borer whose larvae feed on the interior bark of the ash trees resulting in a blockage of vital water and nutrients which causes the trees’ death. Millions and millions of ash trees have been killed by this pest across an enormous number of US states. Dr. Geoffrey Donovan and his team from the Pacific Northwest Research Station showed that in the areas which had lost the most number of ash trees, there was a higher death rate from heart and respiratory illnesses.

 “Well my basic hypothesis was that trees improve people’s health. And if that’s true, then killing 100 million of them in 10 years should have an effect. So if we take away these 100 million trees, does the health of humans suffer? We found that it does.”- Geoffrey Donovan

 3. Living near trees will help you recover faster

If you have someone who is recovering from an illness or operation, try to make sure they get the room with a view of a tree, if there is one! Patients at a Pennsylvania hospital who were recovering from gall bladder operations recovered faster when their rooms had a view of trees than those who were just looking out at a building. The research by Dr. Roger Ulrich covered the years from 1972-1981. In general, it was found that those looking at the brick wall needed more painkillers, more encouragement and they usually took a day longer to recover than those who were lucky enough to have a room with a tree view.

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 4. Living near trees can help with anxiety, stress and depression

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin decided to see if trees near people’s homes were having any beneficial effect on their mental health. They wanted to compare them with those living around more concrete. First, they surveyed the health of over 2,500 residents in Wisconsin and then gathered satellite images to show how many trees and vegetation were in their areas.

They found that those living near trees were suffering from less anxiety, stress and depression than those who lived in areas with a tree canopy of less than 10%. The interesting thing is that these results were consistent and were not affected by race, income level, or education. They noted that a poorer person living near a logging road was happier than wealthier residents on a treeless block in a town or city

Alone with myself
The trees bend to caress me
The shade hugs my heart.” – Candy Polgar

5. Living near trees will help you fight obesity and diabetes

Researchers in Toronto found that the more trees on the block, the less likely people would end up being obese or have diabetes. They are also likely to live 7 years longer. All this data is correlational, researchers say but trees in the neighborhood can encourage people to go out and take more exercise. Just 10 extra trees on a city block can make a difference.

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“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. – Bill Vaughn

6. Living near trees may help you sleep better

Many health experts are concerned that lack of sleep is leading to obesity, poor health and even divorce.  Prof. Diana Grigsby-Toussaint from the University of Illinois has led a  research study on trees and health. Data from 250,000 Americans was used. It was found that those who lived near green areas were sleeping better, especially if they were over 65 years of age.

“Across the entire sample, individuals reporting 21 to 29 days of insufficient sleep consistently had lower access to green space and natural amenities compared to those reporting less than one week.” – Prof. Grigsby-Toussaint

Did you know that when you plant a tree near your property or in your backyard, you are likely to increase its value by 15%? The benefits for the environment may not be quantifiable but they include reducing air pollution and cutting down energy bills by protection from cold winds in winter and increased shade in summer. You can enjoy many health benefits and give songbirds a home!

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“The sound of birds stops the noise in my mind.” – Carly Simon

Featured photo credit: Picket fence and yellow trees/ joiseyshowaa via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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