Into the category of "Didn't I already know this?" goes green therapy. But it may actually go well beyond the self-evident benefit that being outdoors gives us.
I first ran into Green Therapy when I was working with adolescents and adults troubled by Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity problems. It was being found that even painting a child's room green (especially multiple shades of leaf green) was helpful in reducing behavioral problems and increasing focus. Another study found that when you actually put children in a forest setting, the results became much more dramatic. I ran into this again recently when a friend posted this summary work on the subject: Your Brain on Nature. It outlines the many ways in which we can find more peace by interacting with green spaces.
Actually, this is part of the reason we moved from Philadelphia back to Northern Michigan. We wanted ourselves and our children to be able to look out the window or take a walk through the neighborhood and see lots of trees, water and other palliative natural surroundings.
That Green can help anxiety seems to be just one more finding along the same line of thinking: natural environments help our body feel secure and right in the world. In one study, a researcher decided to test outcomes after surgery, but instead of seeing which medication helped, he decided to see if a view of trees outside the recovery room would aid treatment.
"In comparison with the wall-view group, the patients with the tree view had shorter postoperative hospital stays, had fewer negative evaluative comments from nurses, took fewer moderate and strong analgesic doses, and had slightly lower scores for minor postsurgical complications. "
-from "View through a window may influence recovery from surgery." by Ulrich, R. Science v224
Right, wow. That is just looking at trees through a window. Now, with modern technology, we can actually go outside.
So I'll quit typing if you'll quit reading. Let's both go outside.