IMPACT encourages you to connect with yourself, your friends, your family, and your community. Each month there is a different way to make a connection, and for June, the focus is on nature!
Did you know as little as 10 minutes a day spent outdoors can have a benefit on your mental and physical health. In fact doctors across Canada are now prescribing nature to some of their patients. PaRx, Canada’s national nature prescription program. With the launch of PaRx in Alberta, the province’s health professionals can now formally prescribe nature to their patients.
Nature brings us to tap into our 5 senses with ease. A recent camping trip to Riverdale Mini Park, was just what the doctor ordered. I was immediately reaping the benefits of spending time outdoors, and realized I could not help but smile, breath, and admire the beauty of the landscape. I noticed the natural ways I tapped into my 5 senses including hearing the birds, the sounds of others enjoying the campground, the ping of a golf ball, and a times the pure enjoyment of stillness and quiet. Seeing the variety of birds, including a momma owl and her 3 babies, perched in trees, the flowing river, and the rolling hills in the river valley on the golf course. The left-over leaves from the fall, and the new growth of spring all bring joy to each season. The feeling of the air in your hair, while out walking, eating outdoors, with the dirt beneath your feet, and the warmth of the sun, brings a sense of grounding and appreciation deep into the soul. The smells first thing in the morning of fresh dew, with a hint of smoke due to the unfortunate forest fires burning out of control, but a part of nature we are aware of both the devastation they cause, but also the new growth it brings. The smell of cooking outdoors and the aroma of bar-b-q’s, and tasty food cooking brings out so much flavor to our tastebuds when enjoying eating outside.
After reflecting on our fist camping trip of the year I would have to agree with the research that is showing the benefits of connecting with nature or simply being outside. According to the McMaster University 7 benefits of spending time in nature are:
1. Increased feeling of calmness
2. Increased endorphin levels and dopamine production (promotes happiness)
3. Restored capacity for concentration and attention
4. Reduced Symptoms of anxiety and depression
5. Reduced irritability
6. Lowered blood pressure and reduced cortisol(stress hormone)
7. Reduced Feelings of anxiety
In summary whether you are out camping, spending time in your back yard, or just walking around your block, nature has something to offer. Wainwright & MD have a wealth of green spaces, walking paths, trails, parks, and campgrounds to explore. Challenge yourself to do a pre and post check in before heading outdoors and after you return to see how you are feeling most likely it will be on the positive side. Enjoy the great outdoors.
IMPACT cOALITION MEMBERS
Our local community members from: AHS-Addiction/Mental Health, Early Intervention, Public Health, Dietician, Spiritual Services, Wainwright on Wellness, Family Resource Network, Wainwright and District FCSS, Town of Wainwright, Children’s Services, Healthy Families, Primary Care Network, Wainwright Adult Learning, Wainwright Association for Community Living, Catholic Social Services, VIBE, Wainwright Public Library, Wainwright Military Family Resource Centre/Personnel Support Program, Walking Through Grief, Blessed Sacrament School, Blessed Sacrament Outreach School, Rural Mental Health Project, Wainwright Fire Department, Wainwright RCMP/Victim Services, Wainwright Elementary, Wainwright High, Wainwright Chamber of Commerce partner together as a team to bring forth information on ways to connect with yourself and others.