Touch a plant to reduce stress. Yes, you read that right. In a study by researchers at Chiba University in Chiba, Japan they proved that men who touched plant leaves for two minutes felt calmer and had less cerebral blood flow to the brain areas associated with stress than men who touched metal or other materials.
Scientists would suggest this works because in photosynthesis plants use energy from sunlight to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen – yielding an equal number of electrons for every photon of sunlight they capture – and thus producing energy. Perhaps touching them allows you to feel that energy transfer.
Whatever the reason this works, there are sadly too many of us who have lost touch with nature. We go directly from our homes to our garage protected cars to an asphalt or concrete parking lot and directly into another man made building. Where is the interaction with living things – especially skin to plant contact?
I spent many years living near the Pacific Ocean and can testify to the rejuvenating effect the energy of the waves crashing creates. Walking barefoot in the sand, feeling the sun and surf pulsating life back into my body makes it a form of worship for me. The same is true for any place on the planet that has trees. Whether in the forest or in my own backyard, trees sing to my soul. I was amazed when I visited New York City for the first time last year how mesmerized I was by Central Park’s abundant, thriving wilderness of trees. It’s truly an oasis in a concrete jungle.
We are meant to have a symbiotic relationship with this planet. Clearly this is what the Creator intended when he provided a mutually beneficial exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between us and plants. But there is more. There is the life giving healing that comes from a knowledge of herbs and plants. We can also recharge our soul through appreciating the beauties of nature.
So here is your challenge for upcoming Earth Day, April 22nd. Find a way to reconnect with nature. Take off your shoes and walk barefoot across the grass, stop and smell the roses (or lilac trees or anything else that is in bloom) and notice the sky as you soak up some sunshine. Celebrate the gift of planet Earth and commit to doing something every day to reconnect with its dynamic energy. Even if it’s simply touching plant leaves for two minutes.