The Power of Nature

When Kathleen Regan from The Massachusetts Audubon visited North Hill recently, she brought along some birds of prey to meet residents.  Happily, the birds kept their natural inclinations in check throughout the visit.  They also held residents in rapt attention, which is no surprise to anyone who’s enjoyed an occasional nature walk or two.

Even indoors, proximity to the natural world is a mood enhancer. North Hill offers many opportunities to immerse in nature. Surrounded by woodlands, the campus attracts multi-varieties of songbirds who serenade residents year round. Several over-confident turkeys frequently engage in glorious display, despite the apparent disinterest of nearby hens, while lively rabbits caper through tall grasses.

The natural and environmentally-friendly landscaped flora never disappoint. Bursts of color dot the campus throughout the year, even in winter when evergreen foliage and bright berries provide artful contrast to the season’s muted landscape.  There is even a fruit-bearing apple tree descended from the very one that inspired Sir Isaac Newton’s great epiphany!

Fitness Director Christine Morrison encourages residents to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature’s blessings.

“Nature keeps our minds and our bodies in balance,” she says.  “There is mounting scientific evidence that just being with nature, even in urban surroundings can lower stress, improve mood and even help with cognition,” she adds.

Science has a few theories about why nature is healing for humans. Psychologist and researcher Lisa Nisbet, PhD at Trent University in Ontario Canada hypothesizes that “since our ancestors evolved in wild settings and relied on the environment, we have an innate drive to connect with nature.” Other studies have shown that cognitive function is improved simply by looking at natural environments.

Sounds like crickets chirping, birds chattering or waves crashing do the same. (Van Hedger, S.C., et. al., Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2019). Increased happiness, less stress, a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life all come from nature according to experts, making it an obvious choice for residents of North Hill to get outside often.

Morrison makes it easy by guiding walks on local trails and organizing lawn games.  She’s even found a way to get pets out into the fresh air.  Regular Paws for Fitness walks find residents and their canine companions enjoying warm sunshine or brisk, bracing afternoons together.

“We belong to nature,” says Morrison.  I’m always happy to see residents enjoying themselves outdoors.”

When you live at North Hill you are embraced in natural surroundings.  Residents dine on our outdoor deck, walk along garden paths, enjoy the symphonies of bird song, or sometimes, just sit with their faces to the sun.

“Nature can be a way to induce awe,” says psychologist John Zelenski, PhD.  “One of the things that may come from awe is the feeling that the individual is part of a much bigger whole.”

Yes, we are all part of a bigger whole. At North Hill Mother Nature reminds us about that every single day.