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It’s national “Tree Week” here in Ireland.  Although  some of you may still be looking out on expanses of that cold wet white stuff called snow, the sun here in Cork is bright – and considering it is now March, one might safely say the air is spring-like.

Spring time in Cork, Ireland

Spring time in Cork, Ireland

So, it’s timely that the Irish Independent newspaper published an article today touting the healthy benefits of exposing yourself to trees.   Well, not exposing yourself in that sense.  Shame on you.  But the article sites research – conducted in Europe, Asia and Australia – that demonstrates

walking in a forest or going to a park can measurably reduce stress, boost immunity and calm aggression.

Specifically in Britain, a study found recovery rates improved faster if the patients could simply see trees from their hospital window.

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Recently, I have been racked by the flu and a throat-splitting cough that has left me with laryngitis.  The doctor says it’s a virus that’s going around. Only time, rest, plus perhaps warm water with lemon and honey (and a dash of Irish whiskey) will help.   I usually conquer the flu in a couple of days, but this bout is moving into two weeks!

Eager and impatient to improve, I also sought out a salt-therapy clinic upon the advice of a well-meaning friend.  However, 175 Euro and five hour-long sessions later, I cannot concretely say I feel a direct improvement from sitting in that darkened room with its sodium-filled trough around its perimeter breathing in the salty-air.  And as my symptoms persist, my good humor and regular upbeat outlook seem to be disappearing like my voice.

So, maybe it’s not time, rest, lemon-honey-water plus salt-therapy that will do the trick.   Instead I am moved by this week’s reminder and supportive research reports that the great outdoors are exactly that. Great.

trees

I am well enough to get out of the house, not only to drive to the pharmacy for another bottle of cough expectorant, but why not also to take a walk?

  1. Get out of the office.
  2. Drive past the shopping centers and cinemas.
  3. Go to a forest.

Memories of growing up in rural Indiana where our spring-time weekend family outings often meant hunting for morel mushrooms together in the woods come flooding to my mind.  I always feel better physically and emotionally after a walk among the trees.

It just so happens we live thirty minutes away from one of the world’s rare alluvial forests, The Gearagh.  Like a trip to the salt-clinic, a walk in the forest will surely not directly impact my sore vocal chords. But now, with or without my restored voice, I feel my sagging spirits lift as I prepare to trek among the ancient oaks and search for exotic birds and plants.  Plus, since The Gearagh is an Irish Nature Preserve, this therapy will be free.

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That’s a therapy few of us can afford not to take.

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

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