Fortunately for Your Health, We're Not Out of the Woods Yet

One of my earliest memories is being scolded for climbing a tree that was "too big for me!" and coming home scraped, bruised and bleeding. Neither the minor injuries I have sustained nor the repeated warnings and reprimands of my parents or anyone else have ever been able to keep me out of the woods. For me, "out of the woods" was generally a more threatening place to be than in them. Often in my life, the branches of a tree have been the only place I have felt safe and supported, not to mention creative. I spent many afternoons during my elementary school days avoiding my awkward shy kid attempts to relate to my peers, in trees writing my "novel" in a bulky five subject notebook. 

As it turns out, feeling an enhanced sense of wellbeing while surrounded by birds and squirrels and rivers and dirt does not make me an anomaly by any means. There’s even science! (and plenty of it) to support what my child self always intuited. Studies* have shown that time spent in nature reduces stress, anxiety and depression, improves memory, eases the effects of dementia and ADHD, causes vital areas of the brain to work in sync, increases creativity, boosts the immune system, reduces blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension, and helps us feel more connected with the world and each other. And that’s just to name a few of the countless benefits.

Fortunately, we live in one of the best places anywhere for indulging in the healing powers of nature. Yes, Cleveland!

While it’s true that we live in an industrial city, it is also true that this Rust Belt city is overflowing with green space. The Cleveland Metroparks offers hundreds of miles of trails meandering over the rivers and through the woods (including the Rocky  River Parkway, literally connecting me to my grandmother’s house as a kid).  Edgewater Park! with increasing access points from our Ohio City and Gordon Square neighborhoods, home of my lifetime favorite weeping willow, along with a canopy of other gorgeous trees, framing one of our Greatest gifts, Lake Erie. Almost any street you walk down in Ohio City and Tremont gives a path of shade from massive old trees. Community gardens are popping up everywhere. Parks, parks, parks; I couldn’t name them all and I don’t have to. Go outside, turn in any direction and walk or wheel to the nearest green you see, or just sit down on the ground beneath you. Feel what you feel.

That’s what healing feels like. Welcome home.

*Dean, Jeremy. “10 Remarkable Ways Nature Can Heal Your Mind.” PsyBlog. 28 July 2014. 

Stacey Pickering

I am a Reiki, Reflexology, & Polarity Therapy Practitioner, as well as a Detox/Lifestyle Coach & Personal Nutritional Chef. I also love to dance, sing, read, write & rollerskate!

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Volume 1, Issue 2, Posted 4:25 PM, 06.07.2016