Nature is Good Medicine

September 21, 2021 by Cameron Baker, The Hingham ‘Cast

Ice Climbing at New England Base Camp in Milton (courtesy photo)

Nature: Since the industrial revolution, thought leaders, psychologists, and societal influencers have called for a return to the natural world. As we head into the colder months, with Delta and uncertainty swirling, we sit down with area stakeholders hoping to reconnect our community with these transcendental ideals.

Kira LaFosse-Baker is an educator at the New England Base Camp in Milton. Sitting on a property of 111 acres, the organization pulls kids off their screens with multiple activities from archery to ice climbing. For LaFosse-Baker, time outside serves as a “healthy distraction” from the stresses of life and a way to safely connect during the pandemic.

"Oreo" cows at Weir River Farm (Photo by Ally Donnelly)

We also talk with Jeffrey Hamilton, a steward for The Trustees of Reservations. Hamilton says after college, he lived the “cubicle life.” One day, as he sat in his office, he watched an entire day go by. It was dark when he came into work and dark when he left. “At that moment,” he said, “I stopped and I said I can't do this.”

He landed a job with the Trustees and no day is the same. One day he’s mowing fields and repairing fences, another he’s wrangling wayward cows. He says there are many points throughout his day where he stops and sits and breathes, “just be a part of that moment.”

Jeffrey Hamilton, a steward at the Trustees, loads firewood at Weir River Farm (Photo by Ally Donnelly)

Amy Kirkcaldy and her brother Jim are doing just that: trying to help people find their moment. Through the creation of South Shore Family Adventures, the siblings aim to map outdoor opportunities south of Boston. Describing his love for familiar parks like Wompatuck and Norris Reservation, Kirkcaldy says he’s developed deep relationships through hiking during COVID. The drop-in blood pressure, tranquility, and emphasis on the present creates an ideal environment for people to de-stress and clear their minds.

We also sit down with Peg Baim, the Clinical Director of the Center for Training at the Benson-Henry Institute at MGH, to provide the scientific backing for these antidotal accounts. Baim first describes the innate connection between humans and nature coined, the biophilia hypothesis. Through a series of studies, researchers found that interactions with nature increase recovery time, increase cognitive performance, lower cortisol levels, and lower overall blood pressure (all key biomarkers for stress reduction). If you make one decision to improve your mental health over the coming months, Baim says to “spend more time outdoors.”

Jeffrey Hamilton, a steward at the Trustees, loads firewood at Weir River Farm (Photo by Ally Donnelly)

Join us to dive further into nature’s impact on mental well-being and the small steps you can take to make nature the great escape.

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