Nature is almost foolproof at boosting your mood and self-esteem. And, amazingly, it only takes five minutes.
So we read in this msn.com story, which covers a report by Professor Jules Pretty and colleagues at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. The story notes that Dr. Pretty’s work
analyzed findings from 10 separate studies that measured self-esteem and mood after people engaged in "green exercise": cycling, walking, running, gardening, farming, and water-based activities like fishing or sailing. In each of the studies, participants' self-esteem and mood were measured before and after the activities using a standard psychological test. The Essex researchers also assessed study variables such as exposure time outdoors, exercise intensity, type of green space (urban parks, rural setting, forest, and so forth), as well as subjects' age and mental-health status.
Regardless of what they were doing or where they were doing it, all subjects saw improvements in self-esteem and mood after exercising outdoors. People saw the greatest self-esteem changes while doing light-intensity exercise and after being outside for just five minutes. The biggest mood changes occurred after light- and vigorous-intensity workouts—also after just five minutes.This isn’t news to the Catholic ecologist. The delightful relation between man and all creation permeates the Old Testament
The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder's craft. One day to the next conveys that message; one night to the next imparts that knowledge. (Psalm 19:2-3)and continues in the New Testament.
Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made." (Romans 1:20)Indeed, the very nature of the Incarnation tells us of the new link between the created order and the transcendent God. In other words, in Jesus Christ comes an entirely original and unexpected revelation of how God, humanity and all creation are in relation. This relation is rooted in the Triune God, which is of its very essence love and relation. Nothing like this Christian proclamation existed prior to Christ, and nothing like it exists in any other religion today. If you think otherwise, dig deeper. And I'd be glad to help, because it's quite a journey of discovery.
For now, in brief know that through the centuries, Church theologians, mystics and everyday people would embrace the order and beauty of nature as realities imprinted with signs to better discern and know and love the creator. St. Bonaventure's Journey of the Mind to God is a prime example of this particular Christian view of nature as a stepping stone to God.
In any event, its no wonder that today—in a world seeking to deny God—science is telling us what scripture has already revealed and Christians have been aware of ever since: Nature heals. Being in it—in silence especially—allows us something of a reminder of that first garden in which we were happy, the very one that God promises to recreate for us again. If only we’d cooperate.
So great job Dr. Pretty, and for the journalists that have covered this story. God help you in your work reminding an often sad world that we need only spend time in the splendor of creation to feel the love of God, and thus to benefit from it—even after just five minutes.
Oh, and because I love the song used for the post title, let's hear it in the original Road to Morocco. By the way, does the imagery remind you of any particular story? Hint: A guy and gal strolling through a garden, admiring each other and the heavenly light around them.