The power of green
The wall apparently took some getting over. And I’m not sure I’m quite over there yet but I am being propelled by the power of green. The color green. The greening earth. The green smell of my tomato plants and (of course) cut grass. I’m pretty well convinced of the power of nature and there is evidence empirically, that things like ‘forest-bathing’ are essential to our mental health.
Twenty years ago, American biologist E. O. Wilson noted that humans are “hardwired” to connect with the natural world, and that being in nature had a profoundly positive effect on human health.
It makes sense. For thousands of years, if not more, the human species lived off the land and in the land. The evidence indicates that agriculture, as in farming, arose a mere 12,000 years ago. Humans have been around much longer than that, the oldest known skeleton of an anatomically modern homo sapien (us) dates back at least 200,000 years ago. Cities, on the other hand, are only 5,000 years old (give or take) – some anthropologist believe that strong agricultural practices were necessary before cities could coalesce. In any event, as my friend Erna is fond of saying, we as a species have had much more experience being in natural environments rather than in built environments. Some researchers have even proposed that living in high rise apartments increases your risk of depression! Perhaps its because we are not ‘built’ for that kind of living.
These past few weeks have been an interesting experience in separation from the natural environment for many people. As a result, there’s been a phenomenal uptick in the purchase of house plants, garden seeds, vegetable starts, and the like. People are experimenting with regrowing lettuce and scallions in a kitchen window. It of course remains to be seen if people will stick with this green growth but I’m optimistic. Millennials are fueling an overall increase in house plant purchases. I know the nursery I work at has stocked more and more houseplants as the years have gone by.
I’m very, very lucky in that I’ve got a big garden and am an easy drive from natural (and safe) beauty. I can feel my blood pressure and anxiety decreases whenever I’m working in the garden or walking through the woods. But even grooming a house plant can improve your mood.
Go green. You may find yourself happier for it.