Many of us are searching for ways to feel better, physically and emotionally. Once aches and pains are part of our daily routine, we are grateful for modern medicine and professionals that help us to find comfort. But there is another kind of treatment that many people are now calling “free medicine”, and it is definitely something we all should check out. It is a prescription that you cannot fill at a pharmacy. It does not need a physicians signature. And, it does not require you to submit a prescription. It is time spent in the great outdoors and enjoying the beauty of nature.
One pediatrician has been prescribing free medicine to his young patients – and is seeing remarkable results. Working with the parents of the child, the pediatrician has the patients spend time outdoors breathing in the fresh air, feeling the sunshine, even listening to and feeling a rainstorm. He gives his patients what he calls “Park Prescriptions.” To redeem the prescription, his patients are required to go outside and enjoy the fresh air, surrounded by nature. He records these in his patient’s health records, and keeps a record of how often they are prescribed this “free medicine” – as well as how well they are doing in following his prescriptions.
This particular pediatrician is not alone. More and more physicians are requiring their patients to spend time in the great outdoors and take in the healing properties of nature. This has become a routine treatment for a variety of different health challenges – both mentally and physically.
Think about it for moment, if you are feeling anxiety or depression from stress, or maybe even a headache that is coming on, when you go outside and breathe in the air, it clears your mind. Breathing deeply, noticing your surroundings and enjoying being outside, will help you feel better.
I was recently at a conference where our team had been working very hard putting up the booth and worrying about logistics, mingling with potential customers, and stressing over whether or not our brand was being shown in a good light. At the end of the third day, one of our team members blurted out: “I just need to get outside of this hotel and clear my head!” I couldn’t have agreed more. And the follow on question would naturally be: “Did it help?” It absolutely did! Life can’t be all about just working hard – you need to play hard and have fun as well, and balance the scales.
Physicians know that the great outdoors and nature will not cure disease, but they are finding that there are numerous benefits to breathing in clean air; watching a sunset; feeling the sunrise in the east and provide warmth; feeling, hearing, and smelling the rain; sitting on the beach listening to the ocean; sitting on your porch and listening to the birds chirping.
Some of the benefits of just being outside enjoying nature tie into previous blog posts and podcasts that I’ve discussed in some detail like: reducing cortisol, or breathing deeply to relieve stress, helping curb the effects of depression and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, decreasing heart rate, finding balance in your life, and just spending time gaining more self awareness.
Now, of course you don’t need to wait on your doctor to sign a “nature prescription” the is one medication you can self prescribe. And don’t worry about a long list of side effects. You can also fill this prescription in so many ways like going for a walk around your neighborhood, taking a walk in the park, going on a hike, sitting on the porch, or looking out a window, even playing in the back yard.
You could plant a vegetable garden, trim some trees or bushes, paint an old fence, or go to the farmers market to pick out some fresh produce and talk to the farmers and vendors. You might just sit and listen to the rain during a cleansing storm, and breathe deeply the pure sweet air when it’s over. You may want to watch the sun rise or witness a beautiful sunset, or even just gaze at the stars on a clear night. Anything you can do to fill your heart, and lungs, and minds with the beauty of nature will not only bring you joy, but will bring you better health and wellness.
So when thinking about ways to improve your health and general mood, do what the doctor ordered, and spend some time in the great outdoors enjoying nature! Have a great week!