Reconnecting your body and brain to nature is the theme of “hoes against anxiolytics”

Reconnecting your body and brain to nature is the theme of “hoes against anxiolytics”
Reconnecting your body and brain to nature is the theme of “hoes against anxiolytics”

It’s quite intuitive: hoeing, planting, harvesting vegetables in your vegetable garden or smelling flowers in your garden provides satisfaction; walking in a calm forest and contemplating a beautiful, calming landscape. Simply put, nature is good for us. From childhood to the elderly, through three experiences (in school, in business and in hospital) discover how nature goes about relieving us.

Everyone knows it empirically: a walk in the forest is worth a few psychotherapy sessions. Pulling out the famous weeds prevents the mind from spinning dark thoughts. Or simply contemplating a beautiful landscape helps you breathe and slow down stress.

And when science, more precisely neuroscience, psychology and sociology, comes to prove these effects and dissect them, doubt is no longer permitted. Nature wants us well. The documentary “Hoes against anxiolytics” identifies the benefits that nature offers to human beings through physiological mechanisms. During three experiences at major moments in a man’s life: childhood, adulthood and old age, director Cécile Favier talks about scientists who put the studies carried out and their conclusions within our reach.

Here are three good reasons to watch this documentary in replay above.

Where it is a question of memory and heritage. An American researcher at Harvard University, Edward O. Wilson, suggested in one of his works that the human brain developed in synchrony, even symbiosis, with the natural world over millions of years (editor’s note: approximately 2 .5 million years). And as Michel le Van Quyen, neuroscientist at INSERM, explains, “we love nature because we have learned to appreciate the elements that have long served our survival“.

However, since the industrial revolution, man has cut himself off from his natural environment. However, even if man’s habitat is concentrated in urban areas, cutting him off from his primary natural space, his brain retains the memory of all the benefits provided by nature: shelter and food.

On the other hand, the modern lifestyle leads us to dwell on past actions or to project ourselves into a stressful future. And nature offers itself as an escape from this whirlwind of incessant thoughts. The spectacle of a magnificent or surprising landscape offers some respite. What Michel le Van Quyen translates as follows: “it is a spontaneous attraction towards the environment which allows the brain to take breaks and regenerate.” In addition to room and board, rest. A real godsend.

This is how Professor Thérèse Rivasseau-Jonveaux, neurologist at the Saint-Julien University Hospital in Nancy, came up with the idea of ​​creating a garden in the very heart of the hospital, the memory garden. A sort of bridge for patients with degenerative brain diseases to reconnect with their environment. The great sensory richness of the place is primarily beneficial for elderly patients. But it is just as important for healthcare workers. “The objective of this garden is that we no longer feel like we are in a hospital and that we find contact with nature. We leave the artificial environment of the hospital world, poor sensorially, and we offer something of great sensory richness“. she explains.

Beneficial breaks for some, energizing stimuli for others. As proof, the neurologist recalls an anecdote with one of her patients: “the discovery of a rose in the garden will allow the nice surprise of hearing: “Oh a rose”, while the work of a speech therapist on an image will not allow the rose to be brought out“. The memory of nature through the senses : sight, smell, touch and hearing and taste.

Without going into too much scientific detail, Michel le Van Quyen describes the functioning of the nervous system and the brain. “On the one hand you have the sympathetic system which is a physiological accelerator. It regulates stress, it prepares the body for action and it secretes a certain number of hormones and neurotransmitters associated with stress. Conversely, when you rest, the other system is put in place, called the parasympathetic system. It is he who allows the entire body to regenerate – the heart, breathing, digestion – and to return to a basic level.“He continues his explanation with an image:”these two systems work alternately, like an accelerator and a brake of a car; it is a very important balance to find between the two systems“.

Nature presents itself as an antidote to the stress of everyday life. And this is precisely what Jean-Guy Henckel, founder of the Jardins de Cocagne, observed. A former educator in Besançon, he created a first organic associative market gardening operation, promoting integration through work. Today, its network of gardens includes around a hundred farms.

In Thaon-lès-Vosges, for example, the Cocagne gardens have 60 employees, around forty of whom are on integration contracts. Beyond the physical work of market gardening and the good fatigue it causes, the benefits of working the land are multiple: “oWe are not locked up, we have the landscape, we feel the wind, the sound of the trees and the birds”, says Élodie, a cultural supervisor. “Weed! If you’re upset, you go all the way; you vent your anger on something, without getting angry on people” exclaims an employee on an integration contract. Nature as a call for calm and guardian of peace, we had to think about it.

On the science side, it is a sort of re-establishment in phase with the circadian clock, based on the cycle of the sun. A reconnection to the elements, to light and then to the seasons. The light which passes through the retina to the brain to help it resynchronize with the sun. Finally, always this sun, which through the skin, distills vitamin D. A super energy booster.

Thérèse Toussaint, who left her old job in which she no longer found meaning, is happy to share her new rhythm: “I no longer found meaning in my previous work; there, it’s just normal to crash, it’s life. Respect the growth time of the plant, follow the weather. It feels good to follow nature and say to myself “it’s not me who is in charge” I feel gentler with myself as a result.

And finally Earth itself, which contains micro bacteria which strengthen our microbiota, and secrete serotonin, which has an anti-depressant effect. Nature wins by KO over stress.

Evidence of the benefits of nature on the human body is provided. All that remains is to immerse little ones from an early age in a permanent natural bath. Richard Louv, childhood specialist, who defined the syndrome of lack of nature, explains that the risk of developing a mental illness in adolescence or adulthood decreases in proportion to the time spent in a green setting in the ‘childhood.

Building on this theory, Marie-Estelle Rouby, school teacher at the Jean Mermoz school, developed a project with the students in her class. “I wanted to introduce children to the wonderful side of nature so that they could talk about it better.”, she declares. First there is the garden, as a support for transversal experiences: observation, experience; maths, deduction… Then secondly, the forest as a place of experimentation, discovery and taking of limited risks, within the framework of free play. With the key, a gain in self-confidence with the discovery of one’s limits and also of one’s capacities, and the sense of the other.

The neuroscientist once again provides the explanations by recounting an experiment carried out with two groups of children. The first group exposed to nature, the other not. “The children most exposed to nature had the largest working memory, very important for learning.“, he notes.

Nature anchored in our memory allows our memory to activate. The cycle of life can continue. The circle is complete,

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