UNCOVERING NORTHERN WELLBEING: Nature Heals
Finland has the highest percentage of forest cover of any country in Europe, 16 times greater than the average. Around 75% of the country is covered in forest.
So no wonder that the nature plays an important role in Finnish culture. Many Finns enjoy spending time in nature, for example by camping or picking berries, finding inspiration, and most importantly is it the place where we retreat to from the hussle and bustle of the modern world.
Nature simply makes one happy (Finland has ranked #1 in the UN's 2020 World Happiness Report).
Everyman’s rights (jokamiehenoikeudet) are observed in Finland. According to them, people have free access rights in nature, and do not need the landowner’s permission for all outdoor activities.
Several studies have shown that being in nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, but it contributes to your physical wellbeing as well.
Some of the health benefits being in the nature offers:
- reduces anger, fear, and stress
- reducs blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension
- It may even reduce mortality
In one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. Other studies by Ulrich, Kim, and Cervinka show that time in nature associated with a positive mood and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality.
In Japan this all is called Shinrin-yoku
The Japanese have been practising this since the eighties. It means ‘forest bathing’ and these are gentle walks between 2-4 hours long that support wellbeing through sensory immersion in forest and naturally healing environments. It has become a popular preventative healthcare and healing method in Japanese medicine.
Images: Visit Rovaniemi