Sunday, January 10, 2016

Vitamin N

Vitamin N! Nature! I'm a lifelong fan of it, and as I live in New Zealand, there is no good excuse for seeing as little of it as I do.

I have serious Vitamin N goals for 2016, including greening up my house, walking the Banks Peninsula track, and just getting out there on the weekends, indulging the biophilia. It requires so little around here to encounter some glorious nature, and delivers so much in the way of feeling groovy.

Last weekend we investigated the Botanic Gardens. I hadn't planned to make a video, and didn't have the right lens for it (a little jumpy in places, sorry), but here's a 3 minute snippet of our urban ecotherapy session.

It's not just my opinion that Vitamin N deficiency is harmful. Science agrees! For example:

1. A Swedish study showed that individuals experiencing higher levels of stress had less access to green spaces, but at the same time, showed a preference for outdoor leisure activities and green environments.

2. Physiological stress recovery as measured by skin conductance was faster in a group exposed to sounds of nature, rather than various environmental noises, after a stressful maths test.

3. People moving from a less-green to more-green urban area showed sustained improvements in mental health over time. However, the reverse was not true (moving to a less-green area did not make mental health worse in this sample).

4. Visitors to an urban park in Iran reported positive mood change after having been in a green environment and around water. They reported feeling refreshed, relaxed, calmer and more ready to cope with life's difficulties.

5. The European Commission reported that even small green areas (say, a backyard garden) can reduce the stress of living in an 'urban heat island'. Even a small garden may be 7 degrees (C) cooler than the surrounding non-green areas.

6. A Danish study showed that living in proximity to gardens and green spaces correlated with lower stress levels and less obesity.

7. Visitors to a park and forest in Switzerland reported recovery from stress and headaches and an improved sense of being well-balanced. Results were most impressive in those that had longer visits and that combined their visits with a more intense physical activity, rather than just walking or lazing around.

8. Even having a few plants and a view from your office window can improve job satisfaction.

9. Increased green spaces in deprived areas resulted in lower stress as measured by salivary cortisol.

10. Green spaces are just good for you. So says this review, though they can't really say why nature helps us, it just does. It's magic.

11. The presence of nature buffers the impact of life stress in rural children.

I was going to stop at 10, but the last study grabbed me. From the ages of 7 until 12 I lived in a very rural environment. Life was apparently stressful, with my parents divorcing and so on, but I still remember it as a lovely time of my life. In my memories I'm surrounded by animals and nature. I would like to live like that again(hashtag lifegoals).

If any of you have blogged about nature, or want to share that you also go crazy without regular doses of it, please comment below or link up any posts you have written. I'd love to see some pics of your local flavour of Vitamin N too, whether that's an expansive national park, or an aloe vera plant on your desk.


Nature Rx Youtube Channel (fun and funny!)


  1. Challenge accepted! I have blogged about my recent outdoor escapades:

    1. You really have the most interesting wildlife within walking distance. All I could find around here are ducks... and about 35 cats.


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