Biodiversity’s calming effect on our bodies and minds

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May 14th, 2019

National Biodiversity Week 2019 is just around the corner and with over 50 free events taking place in the country, this chance to celebrate our environment is not to be missed.

If you feel like getting out into nature over the nine days (May 18th – 26th) be sure to check out the list of events!.

This year’s theme focuses on biodiversity as the foundation of our food and health – “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”.

Many people don’t realise that the natural world can have an extremely calming effect on our bodies and minds – in fact, studies show that being in nature can benefit people suffering from depression and promote positive mental health.

When you look a little deeper, the scientific field of eco-therapy has a lot of benefits. Spending time in nature helps in emotional regulation, improves memory function and lowers the production of the stress hormone cortisol that calms the body’s flight-or-flight response.

In Japan, forest bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku, is the practice of spending time immersed in the natural world. Recent studies have shown that people who practice forest bathing regularly have optimum nervous system functions, well-balanced heart conditions and reduced bowel disorders.

This is an important finding in the Irish context, as a recent Eurostat study found that Ireland has the highest rate of chronic depression among its citizens at 12 per cent.

Regardless of your mood, a trip to the forest, beach or hillside is scientifically proven to lift your spirits – so why not!

Biodiversity Tour at Irish Seed Savers on Saturday May 18th

11am onwards.

Irish seed savers will be hosting a nature tour to showcase their conservation work with a guided tour of their organic seed gardens and heritage orchards.

The tour aims to highlight the importance of protecting Ireland’s food biodiversity.

Hiking boots or wellies advised!

Another event that is combining biodiversity with the health benefits of being in nature is theLough Boora Hike to the Woods organised by Irish Wildlife Trust on May 25th.

This hike will run from 12-4pm through the Lough Boora landscape as well as a nature reserve to learn about the biodiversity in the area.

Strong footwear and weather appropriate clothing necessary for this 3-4 hour hike.

For anyone who likes an early morning nature walk, there is an event in Galway that might be perfect for you!

Go Wild in Galway on 25 May is offering a day packed full of great calming nature activities.

The first walk, ‘Dawn Chorus’, is happening from 4.30-6.30am at Silver Strand where you can watch the sun come up and spot an array of birds in the morning.

The second, ‘Wild Walk’, takes place at 12 noon in the Fisheries Field – on this three hour walk you will learn about plants and animals as well as how nature can have a positive effect on your physical and mental health.

At 9pm, there is the very popular ‘Bat Walk’ -a nature walk where you can spot bats in the Galway area and learn about them in their environments.

By Marianne Foody

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