Nature and Human Health



I recently attended a lecture entitled Connecting With Nature in the Kawarthas: How Nature Improves Our Health, Happiness and Environmental Sustainability. 

Kawartha Land Trust (KLT) and Trent University have partnered for a series of talks called Sense of Place. The premise is that there are many ways to connect to nature and the lectures aim to explore some factors in forming that connectedness focusing on the Kawartha experience.

The first lecture was given by Dr Lisa Nisbet, PhD, Assisstant Professor of Psychology at Trent U.  

I took detailed notes and have summarized below. I will provide a link to the talk when it is available as well. 

For decades now, researchers have gathered data on the health benefits of nature. The science is clear. Nature makes us happier, healthier, more confident and reduces mortality, violence and depression. Perhaps one of the most important findings is that being connected to nature fosters environmental stewardship. 

While we can quantify some of the reasons that nature benefits us, there are healing components to nature that we cannot identify yet. 

E.O. Wilson's Biophilia Hypothesis attempts to describe the reason that we humans are attracted to nature. The reasoning is that there is an, "instinctive bond between humans and living systems." 

Although, the data is relatively new, the benefits of spending time in nature have been known for a long time. The Japanese term Shinkin Yoku translates into "taking in the forest air" a practice known as "forest bathing." 

Research shows that even a 15 minute walk after work or a busy day can increase happiness. Some studies have shown that time in nature can have a therapeutic effect in children with ADHD equal to that of ADHD medications (without the side effects). Part of the healing power of nature is explained by the theory that our brains are able to softly or effortlessly focus on nature and this reduces stress. The attention that is required to enjoy nature is different than that of watching tv, although that may also seem effortless. 

Dr Nisbet concluded by talking about the gross underappreciation of nature's healing aspects. This can be remedied by educating people on the health benefits of nature connectedness rather than using guilt tactics. 

The David Suzuki Foundation currently has a nature challenge and the aim is for us to spend 30 mins a day for 30 days in some sort of green space. I am trying to incorporate time outside in green space, as a preventive measure for stress and a way to connect. 

Daily nature exposure for children has been shown to foster a healthy nature connectedness that leads to greater stewardship. This may be the single most important thing we can do to prepare the next generations for the environmental issues they will face. 




Cough Remedies


Winter has been long and full of colds. Boosting the immune system is the best (and only) defence for many common viruses. We now know that over-the-counter decongestants can be harmful. We know that antibiotics are over prescribed and useless against viral infections. This means we keep an array of remedies to soothe symptoms. 

We soothe coughs around here using:

• honey, lemon and ginger tea
• elderberry syrup (Suro) 
• vapour rub (Kayala) 
• diffusing oils such as eucalyptus and wintergreen 

These remedies are effective at soothing irritated throats and contain anti-inflammatory properties. Nature is full of powerful active ingredients. I'm always on the look out for companies that harvest and create medicinal products sustainably, because we want these treatments available well into the future. 

Luckily, 8 years into parenting and we haven't had to use antibiotics yet. Here is hoping for strong immune systems for life!! 


Mei Tai Review





Our Mei Tai carrier was the best baby gift we received. It folds easily and packs into a bag for convenience. It is washable. It is all you need to bring on a walk. We have taken it on family vacation to California, on road trips, on walks near the cottage, we use it in museums and most of all, at home. Baby wearing is simple and enjoyable with Mei Tai. 

Recycled Crayon Valentines


Use up broken crayons lying around! 

These Valentines are easy to make (ask my 7 year old), have a function (colouring) and are made from old broken crayons (no need to buy supplies). 

The longest part is peeling all of the paper off the crayons. 

We found a silicon baking tray with heart shaped cups and filled them half full with broken crayons. Place the tray in the oven at 200•c until melted (8 mins for us). Remove and let cool until hard. 

They were a hit at dd2's preschool! Idea inspired by the awesome activity book for kids, Boredom Busters by Caroline Fernandez.

 

Ladybugs


Every winter, ladybugs move into the house. There haven't been many this year, and dd1 wanted to help this lonely survivor. In our house, a bug is prey for 3 cats. Can this be classified as conservation? 

Ecophobia



Environmental issues and disasters are constantly making headlines. The media's fascination with a global doomsday, and a lack of attention around positive changes can cause fear in children known as ecophobia. 

Children who feel hopeless and fearful about the environment are going to have a hard time connecting.

While I think it is important to recognize the problems that we face such as climate change and pollution, even more pressing is enabling children and youth to correct these issues. One of the best methods for fostering a caring attitude toward the environment is to have children get out into nature.

Studies have shown that children learn stewardship through various experiences. A healthy environmental interest can be developed through classroom learning, reading books, and watching education shows. However, a better understanding comes from outdoor experiences which allow for hands-on-learning. Planting a tree, catching a bug to study, looking up at the stars through a telescope, and cleaning up a shoreline are all great activities for building a relationship with the world around.

Let's emphasize activity ideas which get kids out in nature, interacting and having fun!

Michelle




old things into art


old maps + Ikea frames = inexpensive art

old school rulers + antique vase = eclectic, but personal decor














I finally did something with the flowers I pressed a few months ago. It was easy and fun to arrange the pressed pieces. I plan on doing many more of these. I'd like to try pressing red roses next...