Ben the Biophiliac
The pressure of modern life: they have called it an “anxiety epidemic”. Psychologists, doctors, philosophers – many professionals have noted an unprecedented rise in anxiety. Was it there all along? Perhaps. Is it just that now we are more able and willing to acknowledge that people who suffer from debilitating stress, worry, and panic are suffering from something very real; something that our current social and political state doesn’t aid in the slightest? The answer is unclear, but with around 2 million people per year suffering from this mental health condition in Australia alone – as stated by Beyond Blue – now is the perfect time to find ways to alleviate the issues that cause anxiety. So, let’s throw around our ideas – I am always interested to hear about the ways in which you help your own wellbeing. Today, we go to nature for the answer.
I have always loved the countryside. For me, it’s the rolling hills and bushland that is most appealing. I grew up in the Yarra Valley, and my heart is there. Recently I came across a term that explained a lot to me: biophilia. Biophilia was coined by American biologist and naturalist, Edward O Wilson, from his book of the same name. Wilson describes this psychological orientation as the “love of life or living systems”, “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”. He thinks that the deep affiliation some people have with nature is rooted way back in our human biology – an attraction (“philia” is the opposite of “phobia”) to other organisms, species, habitats, and processes in the natural world. Fascinating!
So, if you have ever wandered off into the bush and felt unusually connected to something you couldn’t explain, or if you are the type of person that NEEDS to spend your Sunday morning hiking or in the garden or with your bare feet touching the earth, perhaps you, like me, are a biophiliac! How does that relate to anxiety, you ask? Well, many psychologists have noted the incredible capacity for people with low mental health to improve when they engage with nature. And, when our world feels faster and faster by the minute, when many of us spend our days in offices and touching nothing but concrete or plastic, making the effort to reconnect with nature can be one of the most healing activities you can do. This might be driving out of town on the weekend, submerging yourself in the ocean, or even just taking off your shoes and wandering around in the backyard. Make nature part of your daily routine; let nature remind you that you too are part of this wonderful, everchanging cycle that is life, and that each new day brings wonder and joy. More on biophilia soon! Love Ben x