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Why Living Near Trees Is Great For Your Health

Why Living Near Trees Is Great For Your Health

If you are gazing out on an apartment block as you read this, you may well feel that all this talk of living near trees being good for your health is exaggerated. How can this be true and what can trees do for our health?

Just give me 10 trees! Researchers in Toronto studied the health benefits when people lived near trees. This study was led by Omid Kardan, a psychologist from the University of Chicago. Toronto was an ideal location because it happens to have 530,000 trees in its urban areas. Researchers also had access to the health records of over 30,000 residents in the Toronto area. Basically they found that having just 10 trees in the neighborhood was beneficial for health and can help lower heart disease, obesity and diabetes. This is important as more than 80% of American citizens live in an urban environment.

One problem is that in some concrete jungles, there is no soil or space left to plant a tree. Suburban areas are not much better.

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

Trees can reduce air pollution

The EU has caved in to the car manufacturers by practically doubling the emissions of the deadly NOx (nitrogen oxide) gases. The WHO offers little comfort to us when it says that in 2012, there were 3.7 million premature deaths caused by air pollution.

How can trees help? Trees can absorb some of the nasty pollutants, such as sulphur dioxide and ozone, by trapping them in their leaves and bark. Thomas Karl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research has done some interesting research on this. Trees can help in removing CO2 from the atmosphere and return oxygen to the atmosphere. Think of them as being filters.

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“The trees actually clean up more than we thought.” Thomas Karl.

Trees can reduce stress

Wandering among trees in a forest or even a park can do wonderful things for your health. The Japanese know all about this because they practice the art of “forest bathing” which is called shinrin-yoku in Japanese. But can this practice actually reduce stress? Research suggests that it really can. Posts from the USDA Forest Service show that there is plenty of research that confirms being near trees reduces stress hormones faster than anything else. It also helps with blood pressure. If you ever get the chance of a walk in the forest or in the park, go for it!

Trees can help you sleep better

Researchers at the University of Illinois used data from over 250,000 Americans in assessing their sleep quality. They were curious to find out if being near a park, forest or other natural surroundings had an impact on the number of sleepless nights. Their suspicions were confirmed by the study, especially for the over 65 males. When you want to buy a house, try to find one with trees nearby.

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Trees can be a healing force

The ancient Celts knew that trees were a precious source of food, shelter, medicine and energy. Each tree species was known to have different healing qualities.

Some people recommend that you hug a tree to get its full healthful benefits. But why would you do that? The answer is that as our bodies contain 70% water; they are very similar to trees. Everything in the universe vibrates and the water in our bodies and trees are no exception. Just by being in close contact, you can sense the healing powers and feel better and calmer.

Matthew Silverstone has written a book called, Blinded by Science in which he describes how this awareness transformed his son’s health when conventional medicine failed to cure him. The basic premise of the book is that trees, plants, water are playing a much more important part in our daily health than we realize. As for trees. there may be other factors at work and nobody has, as yet, been able to pinpoint how exactly trees can benefit our health.

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You may be sceptical but there are no studies that show the being near trees does you any harm. Unless you have an allergy to tree pollen of course. They can only do you good. Now, just read the full list of health benefits here and I promise you will want to hug a tree when and if you finish reading it!

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” – Chad Sugg

Featured photo credit: https://Tree Tunnel/Randy Heinitz via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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