Nature and Health,

The Evidence

Nature based therapies, held by experienced and knowledgeable facilitators, are shown through academic and scientific research, to have many benefits. These include:

  • An increased sense of emotional well-being

  • improved physical health- reduced blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, promotes better sleep, and decreases production of stress hormones

  • a deeper sense of connection to self, others and nature

  • a decrease in the use of anti-depressants

  • lower demand for mainstream health services through increased ability to self-manage emotional/physical health

  • increased confidence and self esteem

  • a different more positive outlook on life and the future

  • increased social connections through groups and activities

 There is also evidence to show that connection to nature increases the chances of us making more positive choices to protect our natural world.

Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature reduces anger, fear and stress and increases pleasant feelings

NATURE Connects approach is informed by the work being carried out by the University of Derby’s Nature Connectedness Research Group, the 8 Shields Institute, the Natural Academy and the Health and Nature Practitioners Network. A Nature Connectedness Index has been created by the University of Derby which gives people a numerical value of their nature connectedness, by asking a number of simple questions about their relationship to nature. Through experiencing different activities, as part of identified pathways, people are shown to increase their value or score over a period of time.

 From Biodiversity, health and wellbeing in Cornwall’s Public Open Space
University of Exeter & Cornwall Council

Prescribing green space The importance and the barriers NHS England.

Noticing nature report from The National Trust and University of Derby

5 year review of the Wildlife Trust's 30 days wild challenge.

Mindful meditation in nature

Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones

Green Prescriptions:  Alternatives to mainstream medication and pharmaceutical drugs are now encouraged and understood by many GP's and health professionals to be a viable, cost-effective and better way to treat or improve certain conditions and illness.  Therefore when you go to your doctor you can ask whether a green prescription can help you and ask for an appointment with a link worker.  You should then be 'prescribed' to a link worker who will book you a longer appointment during which they will listen to you and will show you the many offerings available through social and green prescriptions schemes and help you choose if any may be right for you.  All GP surgeries in Cornwall now have contact with link workers, so next time you see your doctor for a check up, ask how they can help you find out what services are available.

(not all services are funded, although, like ours, many organisations run on a non-profit or charitable basis, if you think social prescriptions are important, mention them, with support, in the future, more organisations like ours will be funded as the viable health providers they are)

 

Our hopes for the future:  As awareness grows, some GP practices are turning to natural alternatives in well being interventions and therapies.  Through what is known as 'green prescriptions', GP's can recommend to their patient that spending more time in nature could benefit them.  By working with link workers we aim to increase awareness of and referrals to nature-based practices in Cornwall, which has high numbers of people suffering from physical and mental health issues. Areas of the county also have some of the highest levels of poverty in the UK, which raises stress levels, a known factor in affecting positive health.