Have you ever noticed the striking resemblance between a tree’s limbs and our lungs? What a powerful –and apt image. No different from their human counterparts, trees “breathe” in the carbon dioxide we breathe out in a near-perfect cycle of breath.
This connection through biology is Nature writ large and a simple example of how beneficial our outdoor environment is to us, especially our mental health. The evidence of strong positive associations between natural settings and our psychological balance is so linked that urban planners include it in comprehensive design strategies.
Evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson’s theory of “biophilia” suggests that people pursue experiences in natural spaces because of evolution; resource-rich environments are comforting.
Fresh air and sunlight positively affect both physiology and our mood. For example, the sun’s rays contain Vitamin D, which promotes healthy bones, the brain, and nervous system health while the caress of a light breeze and scent of Spring honeysuckle stimulates brain function.
While self-quarantines and short-term social isolation have been critical for suppressing a raging pandemic, researchers are now studying the ramifications of a prolonged disconnect from outdoor spaces. For seniors living in care communities or urban centers, remaining indoors was not optional, and several studies have shown varying increases in depressive symptoms for at-risk senior populations.
University of Chicago psychologist and associate professor Marc Berman is a leading expert on how environmental factors can affect the brain and behavior. “Our research has found that nature is not an amenity—it’s a necessity. We need to take it seriously.”
Fortunately, as communities begin carefully relaxing guidelines while maintaining masking and social distancing, our loved ones are once again able to sit on the patio, stroll in their community’s gardens and travel beyond their confines to local parks and outdoor venues.
A Companion’s Role
For families whose loved one lives alone, has mobility issues, or resides among a not fully vaccinated population or staff, using an outside companion caregiver can ease the transition from indoors to natural spaces again.
Angel Companions caregivers not only support mom or dad’s needs within the home –non-medical, personal care, or tasks like light housekeeping and meal prep, they fulfill the decisive social role of human connection and the ability for greater freedom of movement outside four walls.
Contact us to learn how we can tailor a flexible care plan to your families and loved one’s specific physical, emotional, or social needs; your Angel and those outdoor gardens await!