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TIP OF THE WEEK: Do you suffer from nature-deficit disorder?

Forest bathing — breathing and being in nature — helps your brain to relax and send out positive hormones
ganaraska hike 2 sept 2020
Members of the Orillia chapter of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail club enjoyed a hike in the Simcoe County Forest in Oro-Medonte Township. File photo

EDITOR'S NOTE: OrilliaMatters is partnering with Sustainable Orillia to publish a weekly tip. Check back here every Tuesday evening for a new tip. For more information, visit the Sustainable Orillia website.

In 2005 the term “nature-deficit disorder” was introduced through the publication of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. Since then the disorder has been diagnosed not only in children but adults as well.

Nature-deficit disorder has been linked to reduced use of the senses, attention difficulties in general and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses.

Because of computer technology, television and cars, many of us now sit inactively for long periods of time inside often stuffy homes, offices and cars on the way to work.

In many cities there are few urban parks and green spaces. We have become alienated from the benefits of nature around us and this alienation has a real emotional and physical impact on our bodies and minds.

Having a nature-deficit also reduces our understanding of nature around us. We are less focused on the importance of maintaining our green spaces, forests and waterways and our need for stewardship of the natural world.

One way to resolve nature-deficit disorder is forest bathing. The Japanese have known that immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way provides all kinds of mental and physical health benefits.

In 1980 the term “forest bathing” was coined: ‘Shinrin” is forest and “Yoku” stands for bathing. Forest bathing — breathing and being in nature, particularly forests — helps your brain to relax and send out positive hormones.

It can reduce stress and anxiety and boost immunity. It can improve your heart and lung health and improve focus, concentration and memory.

Research suggests forest bathing reduces Cortisol to the greater parasympathetic nerve, and leads to significant reduction in blood pressure. Many doctors are actually giving prescriptions to patients with anxiety and depression to forest bathe regularly.

How to reduce nature-deficit and bathe in forests: Get outside as often as you can and walk, hike, snowshoe, cross-country ski and in the summer fish, swim, garden, cycle and jog. Anything that takes you into parks and forested areas is positive, and there are so many opportunities around Orillia.

Areas Where You Can Spend Time in Nature:

The City of Orillia has more than 29 kilometres of trails, some of which are cleared for the winter. Check out the information and map here.

ALLTRAILS has running, hiking mountain biking and more trails.

The Ganaraska Hiking Trail – Orillia Section is just one of the trails curated by Ganaraska volunteers. Click here for more information.

The Ganaraska Hiking Trail maintains the 500-kilometre-long trail from Port Hope on Lake Ontario to the Bruce Trail near Collingwood, with side trails to Wasaga Beach and Midland. There are nine affiliated clubs and the association is run by a board of volunteers drawn from them.