On September 28, a total of 53 Frederick County residents listened to a discussion held by Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.
“Imagine a therapy with no known side effects, that is readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning at zero cost. The direct link to this therapy is interacting with nature,” said Williams, known for her Ted Talk, “Making Spaces of Awe and Restoration.”
The discussion was presented through a slideshow and the overall concept was why nature plays a crucial role to achieve a healthy and happy life.
“The biggest migration occurring today is the one indoors,” Williams said about digital addiction among children and how they spend more time within four walls than outdoors exploring with nature.
Scientific studies were shown in her presentation proving the link between an increase in brain activity when exposed to nature.
Digital addiction is more severe in parts of east Asia. Students attend school during the day and during the night they attend English classes.
“Ninety percent of teenagers in east Asia suffer from myopia—nearsightedness, scientists now believe it occurs from a lack of Vitamin D because these children are literally never outside,” Williams said.
The audience particularly emphasized their reactions to digital addiction, and found the discussion to be valuable.
Sharon Steger, a Middletown High School biology teacher, said, “I thought her discussion of digital addiction was interesting, I love seeing kids outside and enjoying nature, but I see it less frequent now.”
The event centered around the concept that “as little as five minutes in nature can improve our creativity and enhance our mood,” said Williams.
David Strayer, cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah, says, “our bodies relax in pleasant, natural surroundings because they evolved there.”
Being in nature opens up your senses according to cognitive neuroscience studies. Theta waves, are hard to achieve but tend to appear more commonly when submerged outdoors.
“I enjoyed the scientific studies backing the data, it makes it that much simpler,” said Linda Norris-Waldt, advocate for green living and the creator of greenfrederick.org.
Williams discussion was followed by a book signing. The author spoke to each person who purchased her book and answered their questions.
The most commonly asked question was how to help their children to get out of digital addiction. Her answer?
“Take them outside to a location with no cell-service,” Williams said.