Environmental Wellness Sanctuary

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A Cornerstone of Holistic Wellness

Environmental wellness is based on the obvious but under-acknowledge fact that what we eat or are exposed to in our environment has a direct effect upon our health.  We may not think much about Environmental Wellness as part of an overall wellness plan, but our environment and how we feel about it can have a huge impact on the way we feel overall.

Substantial research shows that natural scenes evoke positive emotions, facilitate cognitive functioning, and promote recovery from mental fatigue for people who are in good mental health. The experience of nature can also provide respite for those who experience short-term and chronic mental illness.1 It seems that artificially represented nature is not an effective substitute for directly experiencing nature as it does not provide equivalent benefits and positive experiences.

Lake St Clair Lodge is located in one of the most pristine environments in the world. Free from the impact of air pollutants, pesticides, heavy metals, toxins and other environmental factors on the health of individuals and greater populations.   This makes us ideally suited to people that would benefit from being absorbed in the natural environment to improve their mental and physical health.

Health and Wellbeing Benefits

Health and wellbeing benefits that studies have reported as being attributed to an improved natural wilderness environment such as that which Lake St Clair Lodge calls home.

℘  Improves concentration and memory performance

Studies show that tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better and with greater accuracy, yielding a higher quality result. Moreover, being outside in a natural environment can improve memory performance and attention span by twenty percent.

℘  Health and recreation

Access to wilderness areas and recreational activities is positively correlated with rates of physical activity, which improves mood and contributes to overall healthiness.

℘  Accelerates the healing process

Studies show that being absorbed in a natural environment significantly speeds up recovery time for healing. Patients who physically interact with plants experience a significantly reduced recovery time after medical procedures.

℘  Improves relationships and compassion

Extended exposure to nature and wildlife increases people’s compassion for each other as it increases people’s compassion for the environment in which they live. In short, being around plants can help to improve relationships between people and increase their concern and empathy toward others.

℘  Improves human performance and energy

Spending time in nature gives people an increased feeling of vitality, increasing their energy levels and making them feel more animated. Their performance levels are, in turn, increased by this improved state of mind. Natural environments induce a positive outlook on life, making people feel more alive and active.

℘  Improves ability to learn

Research shows that children who spend time around plants learn better. In addition, being around natural environments improves the ability of children with Attention Deficit Disorder to focus, concentrate, and engage more with their surrounding environment.

℘  Improves mental health

Studies have proven that people who spend more time outside in nature have better mental health and a more positive outlook on life. Encounters with nearby nature help alleviate mental fatigue by relaxing and restoring the mind.The constant stimuli of city life can be mentally exhausting, and life in the city can actually dull our thinking.1 Even brief glimpses of natural elements improve brain performance by providing a cognitive break from the complex demands of urban life.2

℘  Perceived quality of life

People absorbed in natural and beautiful areas are reported to perceive a higher quality of life.

℘  Reduced stress

Studies show that people who spend time cultivating plants have less stress in their lives. Plants soothe human beings and provide a positive way for people to channel their stress into nurturing.

Benefits for Mental Illnesses

Being in a natural wilderness environment can also assist in improving mental illness.

•  Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Millions of children in the western world have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), a condition that has detrimental effects on social, cognitive, and psychological growth.3 Studies show that childhood ADD symptoms can be reduced through activities in green settings and that “green time” may be an important supplement to established drug-based and behavioral treatments.4

 •  Alzheimers and Dementia

Nature experiences provide mental health benefits for the elderly as well, including Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimers is a type of dementia that causes memory impairment, intellectual decline, temporal and spatial disorientation, impaired ability to communicate and make logical decisions, and decreased tolerance to high and moderate levels of stimulation. Certain environments can provide prosthetic support for dementia patients to compensate for their reduced cognitive capabilities.5 Studies have found that nature experiences can be of particular benefit to dementia patients.

 •  Cognition and Illness

Clinical reports have noted the loss of concentration and distractibility in patients experiencing serious illness.6 Studies have tested the correlation between stress and cognitive function under various conditions in women diagnosed with breast cancer. The impairment of CDA has been observed to set in before the start of a cancer treatment, suggesting that attentional fatigue has an early onset and is a result of the diagnosis itself.7 This is likely due to the mentally demanding and stressful nature of diagnostic tests and treatment planning. Participation in activities and/or interacting with natural environments was shown to ameliorate and help stave off mental fatigue both before and after breast cancer treatment or surgery.6

 •  Stress Relief

In addition to physiological symptoms, stress can lead to depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, exhaustion, and fatigue syndromes.8 Stress can occur at any time in life; however, such responses are especially prominent at later age due to physical, psychological, and social changes—for example, in response to chronic disease, disability, death of loved ones, or financial hardship.9 Stress can also negatively affect people’s perceptions of their well-being, including a poor perception of their own mental health.9 Physical activity has been linked to improvements in mental health and stress;10 many studies connect urban park use to decreased stress levels and improved moods. In one study, the longer participants stayed in a park, the less stress they exhibited.11 More than 100 studies have shown that relaxation and stress reduction are significant benefits associated with spending time in green areas.12

 •  Depression

Depression also occurs at any age and can be helped through improved social connections (to decrease the feeling of isolation) and exercise, both of which are promoted by having nearby green outdoor spaces. In one study, 71% of people found a reduction in depression after going on an outdoor walk versus a 45% reduction by those who went on an indoor walk.13 Another study investigated major depression disorder (MDD) and found that an exercise program can be just as effective as antidepressants in reducing depression among patients.14 The value of green spaces and the natural wilderness in encouraging exercise is relevant to treating depression symptoms.

References:
1. Han, K.T. 2010. An Exploration of Relationships Among the Responses to Natural Scenes: Scenic Beauty, Preference, and Restoration. Environment and Behavior 42, 2: 243.
2. Lehrer, J. January 2, 2009. How the city hurts your brain  – And what you can do about it. Boston Globe.
3. Taylor, A. F., F.E. Kuo, and W.C. Sullivan. 2001. Coping with ADD: The Surprising Connection to Green Play Settings. Environment and Behavior 33, 1: 54-77
4. Taylor, A.F., and F.E. Kuo. 2009. Children with Attention Deficits Concentrate Better After Walk in the Park. Journal of Attention Disorders 12, 5: 402-09.
5. Mooney, P., and P.L. Nicell. 1992. The Importance of Exterior Environment for Alzheimer Residents: Effective Care and Risk Management. Healthcare Management Forum 5, 2: 23-29.
6. Cimprich, B., and D.L. Ronis. 2003. An Environmental Intervention to Restore Attention in Women with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer. Cancer Nursing 26, 4: 284.
7. Cimprich, B., H. So, D.L. Ronis, and C. Trask. 2005. Pre-Treatment Factors Related to Cognitive Functioning in Women Newly Diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Psycho-Oncology 14, 1: 70-78.
8. Grahn, P., and U.K. Stigsdotter. 2010. The Relation Between Perceived Sensory Dimensions of Urban Green Space and Stress Restoration. Landscape and Urban Planning 94, 3-4: 264-275.
9. Orsega-Smith, E., A.J. Mowen, L.L. Payne, and G. Godbey. 2004. The Interaction of Stress and Park Use on Psycho-Physiological Health in Older Adults. Journal of Leisure Research 36, 2: 232-257.
10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 1999. Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta GA, 278 pp.
11. Hull, R.B., and S.E. Michael. 1995. Nature-Based Recreation, Mood Change, and Stress Restoration. Leisure Sciences 17, 1: 1-14.
12. Davis, J. 2004. Psychological Benefits of Nature Experiences: An Outline of Research and Theory. Naropa University.
13. Anon. 2007. Ecotherapy: The Green Agenda for Mental Health. Mind: For better mental health, London, pp., 36 pp.
14. Blumenthal, J.A., M.A. Babyak, K.A. Moore, W.E. Craighead, S. Herman, P. Khatri, R. Waugh, M.A. Napolitano, L.M. Forman, M. Appelbaum, D.P. Uurali, and K.R. Krishnan. 1999. Effects of Exercise Training on Older Patients with Major Depression. Archives of Internal Medicine 159, 19: 2349-356.