People are nowadays less and less in contact with nature, we are no longer properly connected with it. We have isolated ourselves from nature by building a clean, clinical and lifeless environment in which we live. As a result, people have begun to consider nature even unclean. Our inherent relationship with it has disappeared.
However, our isolation has consequences, as nature affects the health and well-being of humans holistically. For example, we have lost our bodies protective factors that naturally protect us, which has led to oversensitivity to nature. Nowadays, children grow up from an early age in an urban environment and therefore become more sensitive to nature even easier than adults. This change has taken place in Finland during a little more than fifty years. Time is very short by natural standards. As a result of this rapid change, our bodies have lost their balance and are no longer reacting just for the real threats.
In Yle’s news article from 2015, Kimmo Saarinen, the project manager of the Allergy and Asthma Association at the time, states: “It seems that unnaturalness, packing people in cities, and well-being within the four walls, in malls, and in cars, exposes not only allergies but also other disorders of the immune system.” According to him, allergies have been very rare in the agricultural society of the past.
The proximity of nature has therefore a great importance to our overall health and well-being. The closer we live to nature, the more green spaces there are in the human environment, the healthier we feel ourselves and the better nature keeps our immune system in shape and balance. Even a very short stay in nature already lowers our blood pressure. It has also been found that the number of natural areas in our living environment even has a clear impact on mortality.
Nature and staying there also calms the mind. Even a short stay in the natural environment has a significant effect on the state of mind. In addition to our thoughts slowing down, our ability to concentrate and perceive also improves. Natural areas should also be close to people, because the farther they are the less people use them. When nature areas are pleasant and close enough, people seek out for them naturally. Being outdoors in such an area is refreshing, helps to recover from stress and has a positive effect on physical and mental health. The proximity of natural areas should therefore be taken into account in future city planning.
We should aim for living close to nature, learn to appreciate it, and learn to care for it. The closer we feel to nature, the more important we consider it and the more we respect it, the better future we humans will have. It should be noted that the favourite places of people are for the most part natural environments. We are part of nature, we cannot separate ourselves from it.
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