Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Forest Therapy––Stopping Nature Deficit Disorder

New evidence suggests an indoor lifestyle is bad for your health



Raisfeld and her companions walk along the Bedford Riding Lanes path near Sunnyfield Farm.

Photos by Jennifer Mullowney

Growing up in the Long Island suburb of West Hempstead, I had two favorite things. One was sneaking through peoples’ backyards from one end of our block to the other. It thrilled me. The stealth, the physicality of climbing over fences or under hedgerows, the absolute terror of being caught. My other favorite thing was to visit a patch of scrubby woods behind the Carvel. It was small but dense with trees; a stream ran through it, and I could pretend there were no houses visible around the edges. There was the requisite suburban junk strewn about—a broken lawn chair, some dented STP cans, a bicycle tire—but to me it was wild and magical. To this day, when driving around suburban Westchester, if I see a little piece of woodland between two houses, I still go right back in my mind to that little cathedral of green behind the ice cream store.

Living in Bedford where green space is so plentiful, I still find myself drawn to the woods and still find magic there. The renowned biologist E.O. Wilson coined the term biophilia, the innate tendency of humans to seek connections with nature and other forms of life, and I suspect that trait runs deep in me. I didn’t realize when we first moved here in November 1996 that there were 150 pristine wooded acres behind our house, just a shortcut across our neighbor’s drive. Our own three acres gave us so much to explore that autumn, and winter that year had such epic snowfall, that we spent much of our outdoors time trudging up and sledding down the hill at the Bedford Golf and Tennis Club. But once I discovered the Bedford Riding Lanes practically in my backyard, barely a day has passed that I don’t dip into the woods, in any season, in any weather. Knee-deep in snow, ankle-deep in mud, wading through leaves, or feeding off the energy of new growth, I find the ever-changing woods never less than staggeringly beautiful. 

Around 1920, an increase in paved roads and car traffic in Bedford inspired a group of local fox hunters to create a trail system called the PRL—Private Riding Lanes—that allowed equestrians to ride safely to and from foxhunts. The organization grew, acquiring the rights to access more and more land, eventually being re-christened the Bedford Riding Lanes, which now maintains about 100 miles of trail and helps to protect Bedford’s rural quality. Maybe you’ve noticed their discreet yellow and black signs. Those signs mark the riding lanes, which wind along dirt roads and across private and public property. Currently, of about 500 supporting members, half are non-riders, like me, who use the trails for walking, running, or hiking. The woods are my spiritual refuge, my emotional tonic, my stress reliever, my gym.

Like most of us, I spend too much of my waking hours staring at screens big and small, which is what makes getting into the woods even more critical to well-being than ever before. The Japanese government started using the term shinrin-yoku in 1982, based on ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, believing that “forest-therapy” has a profound effect on health. Increasing alienation from nature has serious ramifications for all of us, children and adults: measurably higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, higher blood pressure and blood sugar, more physical pain, and worse depression. A new concept, Nature Deficit Disorder, appears to be an apt description for the results of an indoor life where most sensory input comes from electronic devices.

One scientist, Dr. Marc Berman, believes that a walk in the woods gives voluntary attention (the kind that gets attracted to email notifications and pop-up ads) a break, since the mind has a chance

to wander aimlessly and be engaged, involuntarily but gently, by natural surroundings. Going outdoors into the natural world—something as simple as looking at the trees, the sky, listening to birdsong, feeling a breeze against your face, smelling damp soil—improves immunity, lowers hostility, increases vitality, concentration, and creativity. 

If you’re thinking I gotta get me some of that, join the BRLA. Look for those little yellow and black signs and get thee into the woods. John Muir, the renowned American naturalist and environmental philosopher said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” I promise you, and you’ll find it out for yourself, he was so right.

 

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

             

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Bedford Shout Outs - September/October

This, that, and the other things

Cliff Hanger

Glenn Close finds comfort on the edge

Show Stoppers

Fashion spotlight on local non-profits

A Renewed Focus

The Bedford Post's two restaurants merge local farms with fine dining

Maine Squeeze

Breathing new life into a mid-century split-level home

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

September 2018

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Come sing with Westchester’s highly acclaimed community chorus, Hudson Chorale. The group is welcoming new members in all voice parts (SATB) to join them for an exciting concert season that...

Cost: Free to audition

Where:
Pleasantville Presbyterian Church
400 Bedford Rd
Pleasantville, NY  10570
View map »


Sponsor: Hudson Chorale
Telephone: 914-478-0074
Contact Name: Jeanne Wygant
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us as we tee off to create a brighter future for children in need at the 2018 Save the Children Golf Classic presented by PVH Corp. This year at Saint Andrews Golf Club in Hastings, NY...

Cost: $1,000 per person

Where:
Saint Andrew’s Golf Club
10 Old Jackson Ave
Hastings on Hudson, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Westchester Community is in need of more than 40 foster homes to provide the county’s most vulnerable children with housing in a safe and stable environment. For more information and to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Department of Social Services
112 E Post Road
White Plains, NY  10601
View map »


Sponsor: United Way of Westchester and Putnam
Telephone: 914-997-6700
Contact Name: Toyae Liverpool
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us at Whitby Castle in Rye, honoring 5 community Rock Stars to benefit United Way. The fun starts at 6:00PM in the Castle Ballroom, spilling onto the Great Terrace under a September Sky. A 3...

Cost: $80.00

Where:
Whitby Castle
330 Boston Post Rd
Rye, NY  10580
View map »


Sponsor: United Way of Westchester and Putnam
Telephone: 914 997 6700 X 720
Contact Name: Drew Coburn
Website »

More information

FREE community event: Join Dawn Kurth, of No Kidding Nutrition (www.nokiddingnutrition.com) for a workshop sure to be of interest for anyone who's dealt with the six o'clock scramble or had one too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Martin House Workspace
69 Westchester Ave.
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Martin House Workspace
Telephone: 914-764-3128
Contact Name: Erin Trostle
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Presented in conjunction with Gilda's Club Westchester Join us for a very special event with original SNL Writer, Emmy-winner and Executive Producer of Love, Gilda, Alan Zweibel. Guests will...

Cost: $30

Where:
Bedford Playhouse
633 Old Post Rd.
Bedford, NY  10506
View map »


Telephone: 914-234-6704
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Copland House at Merestead opens it's season with a glittering, intimate journey into the life of the charismatic  conductor and composer, and a sold-out smash at its Lincoln  Center...

Cost: $25

Where:
Copland House at Merestead
455 Byram Lake Road
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
View map »


Sponsor: Copland House
Telephone: 914-788-4659
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Legendary journalist Lesley Stahl will lead a special one-on-one event with former sex-crimes prosecutor turned BEST – SELLING crime novelist, Linda Fairstein. From the unsolved cases that keep...

Cost: $40

Where:
Bedford Playhouse
633 Old Post Rd.
Bedford, NY  10506
View map »


Telephone: 914-234-6704
Website »

More information

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

The 58th annual Lewisboro Library Fair is Saturday, September 22 from 10 am to 4 pm at Onatru Farm Town Park (99 Elmwood Road in South Salem). The Fair features huge Book, “Attic Treasures”...

Cost: free

Where:
Onatru Farm Town Park
99 Elmwood Road
South Salem, NY  10590
View map »


Sponsor: Lewisboro Library
Telephone: 914-875-9004
Contact Name: Liz Gabriele
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags