As rates of chronic disease among children have skyrocketed over the past few decades, pediatricians have increasingly looked for solutions beyond the clinic. Sometimes that means actually prescribing time outside. Special correspondent Cat Wise reports from Oakland on the medical evidence that indicates escaping modern urban life, even temporarily, can yield health dividends.
These days, we stay indoors for hours scrolling through social media, binge-watching TV shows, or playing video games. We shop online and have purchases delivered straight to our homes. We live in or commute to cities surrounded by concrete, steel, and smog. Our days are mostly spent away from sunshine, trees, water, and fresh air.
While our modern way of life can be convenient, it’s taking us away from the health benefits of nature. To the point where getting outside should now be a priority. This is where the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku — or forest bathing — can help.
What is forest bathing?
In 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries created the term shinrin-yoku, which translates to “forest bathing” or “absorbing the forest atmosphere.” The practice encourages people to simply spend time in nature — no actual bathing required. It’s also very low impact, which means you don’t have to go for trail runs or do an intense hike. The goal of forest bathing is to live in the present moment while immersing your senses in the sights and sounds of a natural setting.
Dear Fellow Sufferer,
I come to you with sad news of the death of my close relative. And while life does go on, I’ll never be the same. I want to say now that fact is accepted. For her life meant so much to me that the loss will forever change how I approach my world. However, I need to recover and eventually arrive to a place where I am thriving. That will take time, effort and help from people such as you.
How can you help? Your tolerance with me when you see me feeling bad, your patience with any unexplained anger I show can help me heal. Seeing you, gives me a chance to lean on your strength. I won’t ask you for advice. But when I of course do ask you, be assured that I won’t heed what you tell me, or even appear to appreciate it. I will appreciate your reaching out to spend time, visits, texts, phone calls. And when I don’t respond, I hope you use that as a sign. Seek me out when that happens because it will probably be when I am most vulnerable and need your help more.
Prayers are always welcome. If you ever feel prompted to share with me how loss has impacted your life I hope that you do. I believe it would benefit both of us. It may not seem like it by the way I look or act, but that’s okay, remember I’m grieving, and that often isn’t comfortable.
Let me close with words of gratitude and appreciation. Because each time you help me this way you will be acting out of love. That gift has more value than every other thing you might provide me. Thank you.
The idea for the grieving letter is from Recovering From Losses In Life by H. Norman Wright, who got the idea from Bob Deits, who wrote Life After Loss.
I am in a discussion group for the book Recovering from Loss in Life, by H. Norman Wright. I believe we have much to benefit from reading and talking ala book club like. I even created an online book club on Goodreads.com, though it hasn’t yet come to fruition.
Have you experienced good results from book discussion groups? If so, to what do you attribute their success? I feel determined to pursue them out of an expectation that the effort will be well rewarded.
At this stage in my current group, I am applying one of the questions in Chapter 2 – healthy things I will do to respond to my next loss – by writing about my mother. Her late stage dementia is a loss I want to cope with. So, for my healing, and for her honor, I am remembering some good times that she created in my life. I’m quite sure some fond memories will be a safe destination.
Once upon a time…
My senior year in high school, we lived far enough away that walking from home would not work. I had a zero hour (7am) class because I played saxophone in the performance band. As a member of the cross country and track team for the school, my team workouts wound up anywhere from 5 to 5:30pm before heading home.
We could not afford for me to have car, and I did not have a job. What did mom do? I drove her to work by 6:30am for her job that started at 8. After dropping her off I would head to school in her car. After work, she would get rides home from co-workers.
This was our routine, done with no fanfare, with no big discussion about sacrifice nor any acknowledgment that anything was special or extraordinary. It just was.
This example reflects a myriad of the shared experiences which she contributed in our lives. The nature of how my mother treated life and family can be imagined, I hope, from considering her role in this story. I love you mom.
Any event that destroys a person’s understanding of the meaning of life is felt as a loss.
Someone you know may face a condition like MS. We can’t know how they feel. But we can listen. Here is something you might hear if you chose to listen. After reading this story, if you are curious to learn more, try positivelivingwithms.com
A semi-colon is a reminder to pause and then keep going.
Today my father would have been 77. He died from alcoholisim. I wanted to remember him today with this important message from 800recoveryhubblog. For family members of addicts.
Get well soon.
Therapy and counseling
Support of Friends and Family
Get out of Denial
By taking a little time each week to apply good advice, we can make life changing progress.