The Joy of Living in the Scrub By John Steele

     This was something people in the past would not have thought about but is a product of modern urban living - people spending time outdoors have happier lives:

“It's been established that people who spend more time in parks and other natural settings tend to report higher levels of health and happiness, but new research shows there's actually a magic number for it. According to a study published this week in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, spending 120 minutes a week strolling a tree-lined street or sitting by a lake can greatly enhance a person's overall sense of well-being. Less time didn't yield any significant benefit, the research showed. Those who got in two to three hours in nature were about 20% more likely to report high overall satisfaction with their lives than those who spent no time outdoors at all. The benefits to physical health were even greater, with those who met the outdoors benchmark being 60% more likely to report being in good health than their cooped-in counterparts. The figures were adjusted for a number of characteristics known to influence health and happiness, including socioeconomic factors, neighborhood characteristics and general demographics.

People who already spend a lot of time outdoors aren't likely to find these results surprising: There's already a substantial body of work linking green spaces to lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, mental health problems and overall mortality; and to greater rates of health, happiness, and cognitive development in children. But most of these studies simply measured the physical characteristics of neighborhood environments. They didn't actually ask people how often they experience the natural world to create a gauge of nature exposure at the individual level. That's exactly what the current research does, using a nationally representative sample of 20,000 people living in England. The authors note their approach is similar to what governments have used in the past to develop physical activity guidelines for adults and children. They envision the creation of similar guidelines around exposure to nature.

Overall, they found, two hours or more of nature exposure had a significant impact: Its positive effect on an individual's health and well-being was comparable to getting recommended amounts of exercise or of living in a high socioeconomic status area versus a low-status one. They stress, however, that the effect is not necessarily a causal one. Though researchers controlled for a wide range of variables known to affect health and happiness, the study's design didn't allow them to completely rule out other factors that could result in higher health and happiness for nature lovers. It may be the case, for instance, that people who are more inclined to be physically active and have a positive outlook on life are more likely to seek recreation opportunities outdoors. It may also be the case that being outside in nature, which typically involves a lot of moving around, may serve as a proxy for physical activity overall. However, the authors note that other studies have demonstrated the benefits of being outside even in the absence of physical activity. Research in Japan, for instance, found that simply sitting passively in a natural environment can confer benefits to physical and mental health. Other research has shown that exercising outdoors provides a boost to mental health above and beyond what you'd get from doing the same exercise inside.”

     Here is the research paper at Nature Scientific Reports:

“Spending time in natural environments can benefit health and well-being, but exposure-response relationships are under-researched. We examined associations between recreational nature contact in the last seven days and self-reported health and well-being. Participants (n?=?19,806) were drawn from the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment Survey (2014/15–2015/16); weighted to be nationally representative. Weekly contact was categorised using 60?min blocks. Analyses controlled for residential greenspace and other neighbourhood and individual factors. Compared to no nature contact last week, the likelihood of reporting good health or high well-being became significantly greater with contact =120?mins (e.g. 120–179?mins: ORs [95%CIs]: Health?=?1.59 [1.31–1.92]; Well-being?=?1.23 [1.08–1.40]). Positive associations peaked between 200–300?mins per week with no further gain. The pattern was consistent across key groups including older adults and those with long-term health issues. It did not matter how 120?mins of contact a week was achieved (e.g. one long vs. several shorter visits/week). Prospective longitudinal and intervention studies are a critical next step in developing possible weekly nature exposure guidelines comparable to those for physical activity.”

     In the modern era, there was a basic argument made by Henry David Thoreau in Walden; or, Life in the Woods (1854), where transcendentalist philosopher Thoreau spent two year, two months and two days in a cabin on land owned by another philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Walden pond, Massachusetts, now part of the Walden Pond Reserve, and still looking good, in spite of modern pollution.  Thoreau said:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

     Along with natural living, being away from the city it may be possible to have  little more freedom in building:

“If Rob's not tinkering with his house, he's looking for "beautiful stuff to build with". Old packing crates, pallets, rocks, recycled windows — anything goes. It's taken the Tasmanian more than a decade to gather the materials from the tip shops, construction and demolition sites and friends' places — but he's not precious about time because it's all come at an incredibly low cost. "The whole house has cost less than a $1,000 to build," Rob, who wants to go by a pseudonym to protect his privacy and avoid council scrutiny, says. The place is a hodgepodge of styles, from modern tiles to Middle-Eastern carpets, but Rob describes it simply — "nice". "[It's] very beautiful and nurturing to be in. And it's vastly, vastly different from mass-produced housing," he says. He doesn't bother with the pots and plants — instead, he's built an indoor garden. "I've got a bigger pot than most people, I suppose," he jokes. "I just think all homes should have internal gardens. They're better for the air, it makes you feel nice every time you look into it and you can grow food as well as decorative plants and flowers."

     I bet they have the spotter planes out looking for this guy to shut him down. Anyway, I am the king of the castle here as I live in a tent next to nowhere, hidden deep in dense scrub. It would be hard to spot even using heat detection gizmos from space. I thought about writing a book like Thoreau’s but the notes that I made out here over a bottle of Jack Daniels which I thought were profound philosophy were regarded by our ex-English lit teacher James Reed as “near lunatic bs ravings,” so I had best not try and publish or they may be putting me away for the rest of my time. Noooooooooooooo, seeing all those obviously crazy people on the streets when I go to Melbourne, talking to themselves, some even answering themselves, screaming, behaving violently, all to intimidate the sheeple …I want to get back into the scrub away from it all, unto death. Here alone, with just the silence of the bush for company. 

    Uncle Len in his shed … he has the worst of both worlds. Better to come out as a prepper, rather than just sniff pepper, or follow the “chilli preppers”:



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Thursday, 29 July 2021
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to