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In Times of Crisis, Nature Offers Healing

Earth-in-grass-300x200The COVID-19 pandemic may be putting our human lives on pause, but it hasn’t slowed nature down at all. In fact, in many instances around the world, the slowing of human activity has led to what many see as an opportunity for the Earth to rest and heal.

What a beautiful thing to ponder.

The slowing of industry in places like India and China has reduced pollution to its lowest levels in years. Many cities in India are being treated to views of the majestic Himalayas for the first time in three decades. Even Los Angeles has seen a striking drop in its trademark smog.

moose-in-Yosemite-300x200And all around the world, as humans stay inside, the animals are coming out to play.

  • In San Francisco, coyotes have been seen casually strolling in the streets in and around the Bay Area.
  • At Yosemite National Park, bears and other wild inhabitants are suddenly much more visible as the crowds of tourists have disappeared.
  • In South Africa’s Kruger National Park, a pride of lions has been seen luxuriating in the sunshine on a usually busy paved road.
  • In Wales, a herd of wild Kashmiri goats have been up to charming antics in the center of the small town of Llandudno.
  • And while the story of dolphins returning to the Venice canals wasn’t exactly accurate, it is true that the canal waters have become crystal clear, allowing for viewing of other aquatic creatures.

While you may not necessarily want to have a close encounter with a lion, bear, or coyote, there’s something reassuring about seeing these creatures adapting so quickly to reduced human activity. Their perseverance is inspiring!

spring-crocuses-1439855-m-300x199Even on a smaller, less dramatic scale, nature offers plenty of comfort and hope. As people slow down and step outside their usual routines, many are finding more time to notice and appreciate the everyday beauty of the natural world. With walking being one of the only pandemic-safe activities, people everywhere are spending more time strolling in the great outdoors. Thankfully, it’s spring where we are, so there is a lot to take in.

Watching the season’s plants poke up out of the ground, unfurl their leaves, and blossom in a rainbow of colors grounds us in the steadfast cycles of the natural world. It reminds us that even though we may be experiencing a lot of upheaval in our lives, nature is moving forward according to schedule. The birds are singing, the cherry trees are blossoming, and the days are slowly getting warmer and brighter.

child-watering-plant-300x200Inspired by the pageantry of spring, people are gravitating toward gardening in unprecedented numbers.

  • Seed companies saw a huge surge in sales, reflecting the renewed interest in growing food at home.
  • Innovative garden centers are offering curbside pickup as the prime planting season swings into high gear.
  • Experienced and new gardeners alike are heading to their back yards to dig in the dirt. There are certainly worse things we could be doing.

The benefits of getting out in nature are well known. Studies have shown that even spending as little as two hours each week in green places can promote physical and mental health and improve our sense of well-being. Not only does being outside feel good, it gives us a broader perspective on our lives.

Surprisingly, recent research has shown that you don’t even have to go outside to reap nature’s benefits. The Real Happiness Project, a collaboration between UC Berkeley and BBC Worldwide, found that even just watching nature documentaries can substantially decrease anxiety, stress, and fatigue while significantly increasing relaxation, contentment, and joy.

So, even on the days when you can’t get outside to walk or work in the garden, you can still get in touch with nature right from the comfort of your couch. Nature really is the perfect cure.

 

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