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... Glorious Trees, Part Deux

It’s me, Alyssa; just in time for a second installation about trees, and I'm back like a bad cough! ;) In all seriousness, I would love to begin today’s blog by asking you all to pray for our Reasons for Hope team members. Our ministry's heart is to reach the lost and teach all how to give reasons to defend the Christian faith. But we are human and sometimes get sick, tired, and down. So your prayers and encouragement are coveted!
Now, here’s a quick recap of the first blog I wrote about trees.
  • Trees are present or mentioned in most major theological events throughout Scripture.
  • So many trees!! Trees are the third most mentioned living thing in the Bible.
  • Trees have purposes apart from physical necessities (housing, air, and food).
Click HERE to read or reread the entire blog, “Trees, Glorious Trees!”
I ended my previous blog by stating that in Part Deux, I might share some “cool” data that I discovered about trees and their effects on the human body and mind! So without further ado, I'll summarize some very interesting information I found in a study I stumbled upon a while back.

Benefits of Walking through Forest Areas

This 2018 study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that walking through forest areas decreased the negative moods of “depression-dejection,” “tension-anxiety,” “anger-hostility," fatigue, and confusion, and such a trek also improved the participants’ positive mood of vigor when compared to the results of walking through city areas. These results, which demonstrate the psychological benefits of forests, are partly consistent with previous findings which showed the effects of viewing forest scenery or walking in forests. This present study is the first to use a sample size this large—585 participants, and the psychological benefits of walking through forests were evident with this larger sample. Read the full article HERE.
When I discover positive information like this, it reaffirms me spiritually. Since I live in north Georgia, I see trees everywhere, all the time. Seeing trees is one thing, but because of this new information, I now look at them a bit differently. 

God did not JUST plant trees; He created and designed every detail of them down to their simplest cellular structure and made them so diverse in the process! It's okay if you can't wrap your mind around that because neither can I. But next time you walk outside, try to find a tree and take a few deep breaths!   
God’s very creation is for our benefit and His eternal Glory! I think that in the day-to-day, it's really easy to forget that fact. So, to be transparent, I picked up some of these studies because I was trying to find my “awe and wonder” again.
I speak for myself and many when I say that, growing up in the Bible belt, I've known about Jesus since I was a child. I knew of His miracles and how He taught love. I knew the story of Genesis and read about Noah's ark with my grandmother as a child. But, even so, connecting the amazing, powerful God of the Bible to the world around me has always been a struggle. 

I am reminded of God’s intentional character whenever I see a tree.

In other words, I have struggled to see God's craftsmanship for what it is. I became desensitized to my surroundings, and somewhere along the line, I stopped looking at sunsets or trees or watching the light cascade between rain clouds on my drive home from work. I stopped seeing creation and started just seeing my “normal. '' I didn't take time to truly appreciate what God has put all around me, which may sound like a disproportionate reaction to something as commonplace as trees, but think about it. After doing this study, I am reminded of God’s intentional character whenever I see a tree. I now have more than one way to see God moving in the world around me, and it has helped me get through some tough times. 
I hope that made sense! As we discussed, you can find many studies online that walking in forests (and having trees in view) reduces blood pressure and stress-related hormones (cortisol and adrenaline). There are also some very interesting studies to see if forest exposure can help prevent certain types of cancer! 

Immune Boosters

Exposure to forests boosts our immune system. While we breathe in the fresh air, we inhale phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities, which help plants fight disease. When people breathe in these chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells or NK. These cells kill tumor- and virus-infected cells in our bodies. One study showed increased NK activity from a 3-day, 2-night “forest bathing” trip that lasted more than 30 days.

ADHD Relief

Attention fatigue causes an inability to pay attention and control impulses in children. The part of the brain affected by attention fatigue (right prefrontal cortex) is also involved in Attention-Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Studies show that children who spend time in natural outdoor environments have a reduction in attention fatigue, and children diagnosed with ADHD show a reduction in related symptoms.

Quicker Recovery 

Patients recover from surgery faster and better when they have a "green" view. Various factors, including pain, fear, and disruption of their routines, may stress hospital patients. Research studies revealed that patients with "green" views had shorter postoperative stays, took fewer painkillers, and had slightly fewer post-surgical complications than those with no view or a view of a cement wall.

To learn even more from this research study, click HERE.
Trees are just one of a gazillion things in our world that reaffirm God’s divine wisdom and creativity. I encourage you to always look for those things and praise God for His intentional nature!

Psalm 34:1 ESV
 I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Author Bio:
My name is Alyssa Glander! I have been walking with the Lord since I was about 17, and He has shouldered me all the way!! I am a content and social media manager at Reasons For Hope and the youngest member of the team! I've been happily married to my amazing husband Marc for about four years now, and we reside in Georgia with our certifiably insane (but sweet) Boston Terrier, Axel!

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