I’ve got a “guest post” for you today. I have shared things from my sister’s blog before ~ she can be found at autism-mom.com. Her blog is about the joys and challenges of being mom to my wonderful nephew (“The Navigator”), and a post she wrote recently gave me even greater appreciation for something I already love ~ and maybe you do, too. Enjoy…
UNDER THE TREES
When the Navigator and I walk to school in the morning, we take a fairly direct route that doesn’t take us very much time.
When we walk home in the afternoon, we take a more leisurely route through our tree-lined neighborhood to give him time to decompress after a long day.
We learned long ago that being near trees and parks had a calming effect on the Navigator when he was feeling overwhelmed or anxious. When we first visited New York City, Central Park was a blessing that we went to almost every day.
The Mall in Washington, D.C. had the same effect, and it was great to be able to walk under the trees when we moved from one museum to the next.
When we were planning our trip to Great Britain, I told our travel agent we needed to be near a park, no more than a couple of blocks away if possible. In London we stayed a block from Green Park; in York we stayed at a hotel on 18 acres of parkland; there were trees on the hill next to our flat in Edinburgh.
The first evening after we arrived in London, when the Navigator looked around the flat and said “I want to go home” I suggested we go for a walk because I knew we were five minutes from trees, which meant he was 10 minutes from soothing and calmness.
There is some interesting research discussed in the article about how a view of trees can reduce a hospital stay after gallbladder surgery.
There is additional research related to the health and well-being of people who live in a neighborhood with trees on their street versus people who don’t. This was coupled with statistics on the increase of cardio-and respiratory-related illnesses in areas where trees have been killed off by pests.
The conclusion drawn was that trees help make people healthier.
The most interesting thing was that it was specifically trees in public areas that made the difference and offered health benefits. The same health benefits were not derived from trees in people’s home gardens.
One theory is the benefit comes from the stimulus of the colors and movements of trees:
“The environment has to have some kind of stimulation to activate your involuntary attention—your fascination … your eye is captured by the shape of a branch, a ripple in the water; your mind follows.”
When the Navigator has perseverative meltdowns or gets stuck in perseverative thinking, we use cold apple juice to help him get out of it. We think it is the change in stimulus – cold, sweet liquid – that helps shift his brain from being “stuck.”
I never thought about how the movement and colors of trees were giving my son the same kind of change in stimulus, like the apple juice.
I just knew that the trees made him feel better.
A whole new reason to love trees. And I imagine that this is exactly what God had in mind when he created them. Wonderful.