Growing up with Nature
I am fortunate to have parents that instilled from a young age the importance of nature, being outdoors and respecting our geographies. I used to find every excuse to walk through a forest, climb a tree, roll down a hill or swim in a lake.
My parents never subscribed for cable/satellite TV until much later in my elementary school years. At that point, I was already accustomed to playing outside with friends instead of succumbing to the “one-eyed devil”, as mum so eloquently nicknamed our television.
My brothers and I spent winter and summer holidays at day camps, where we were guaranteed epic games of capture the flag in a forest, or competed to build the most intricate snow forts known to child. During summer vacations, dad would take us camping, where he would pass on his boy scout knowledge – how to build a tent, read a map, start a fire and use a compass.
Now that I am older, I am so thankful my parents instilled within us a sincere and deep love for nature. Confronting a mountain reminds me that not all issues I face are colossal. When I’m surrounded by a family of trees, I am in awe of their strength and ability to fight through seasonal adversity; the warmth of the sun’s rays always reminds me to smile; and the earth beneath my feet grounds me.
This may sound like some hippy-dippy talk, but science also confirms the benefits of nature.
On Oprah.com, Cristina Tudino lists, “5 Ways to Boost Your Health by Going Outside.”
- Norwegian research authored by Marinanne Thorsen Gonzalez, PhD, noted that individuals with moderate-severe depression experienced reduced symptoms after participating in a horticulture program because, “humans are innately engaged in nature.” 
- A 2011 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that, “people who walked outdoors […] experienced more positive emotions than those who walked [indoors].” 
- MRI scans studied at South Korea’s Chonnam National University illustrated that, “when subjects saw images of natural [landscapes], they experienced heightened activity in [the part of their brain linked to positive outlook and emotional stability, as well as in the region] tied to the recollection of happy memories.” 
- According to Columbia University researchers, “negative ions – particles that are plentiful near waterfalls, breaking waves, and river rapids – can act as natural antidepressants.” Breathing in negative ions for an hour, as per an Indoor Air study, concluded that, “blood lactate levels dropped 33%, improving, [a subject’s] energy levels.” 
- A study conducted at Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School found that, “women who spent two to four hours in the woods on two consecutive days experienced a nearly 50% increase in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells.” 
On top of all these great benefits, being outside under the sun is the best way to absorb Vitamin D. Why is this so important? Apart from promoting calcium absorption to aid bone health (critical if you’re on medical treatments, such as Lupron), Vitamin D is essential for the proper function of our immune systems. 
You probably giggled at my grounding statement earlier, but it’s a (real) thing! The practice of grounding proposes that bare skin contact with the earth allows us to absorb the earth’s electrons, “since the earth is negatively charged – and has a greater negative charge than your body.”  This practice results in, “intense anti-inflammatory and energizing effect[s] on the body”, according to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 
Comfort for Every Sorrow
When I travelled to Vancouver to visit a medical specialist regarding my endometrioma excision surgery, I was thrilled for the slight possibility to observe British Columbia’s breathtaking vistas. Luckily, I had awesome pain killers and two brothers who would carry me through forests and by the ocean’s shores.
After being bed-bound for nearly 6 months, I finally found clarity during our trip to BC. I felt renewed, re-energized and refreshed after spending time in centuries-old forests and meditating by waterfalls. Following the trip, whenever I face a health challenge, I summon the positive emotions I experienced in BC to push me to fight another day.
As Anne Frank wrote in her dairy,
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
The information published in this post was intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in the content should be considered, or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.