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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

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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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