The Shetland Islands High up in the North of Scotland are a windswept and rugged Island landscape, full of wide open areas, thousands of migratory birds, rock formations like you have never seen, with winding footpaths everywhere. An epic place for long, lingering walks and time spent taking in everything nature has to offer.
Last year we took a week off and drove to the Highlands to experience it first hand, what an adventure it was. The place was breathtaking. A couple of snap shots of the trip are in the article.
Doctors are now starting to realize time spent outdoors can be a great treatment for chronic health issues. So Doctors in the Shetlands are now issuing “prescriptions of nature” as part of an initiative to address health issues without drugs if you can imagine that.
From high blood pressure to anxiety, diabetes an depression, the medical community is learning that many ailments and diseases can be treated with activities like birdwatching, maybe a little kayaking, perhaps combing a beach for shells, even skipping pebbles across a slow-moving stream. Even just sitting silently in a forest, meditating. Encouragement to get out side is the message.
NHS Shetland, the health authority in the Scottish archipelago, has authorized their doctors to prescribe brushes with nature not as replacements for traditional health care, at least not exclusively, but as a healthy supplement. The hope is the program will be a success and open others’ eyes in the traditional medical community to such non-traditional and subtle treatments for body and mind.
“We would like this to be picked up by other areas or health boards,” said Helen Moncrieff, a health manager in the Shetland. “There is so much evidence that nature is good for us, and this is a simple way to get people outdoors and experiencing nature in a city or a wilder place like Shetland,” she said in her interview.
Hiking, swimming, cycling simply just getting outdoors and moving have been shown to have dramatically beneficial health effects, but the nature prescription program also taps into a connection with wilderness as a means to provide an easy kind of care for the mind and body. Use a tracker to watch your heart rate and steps.
Appreciate a passing cloud, the programs suggests. Plop down in the grass and make a daisy chain. “Really look at a lichen.” Stare out to the sea and watch for passing whales. On a brisk, windy and rainy day, stand still, close your eyes and let the wind rush past and “feel the exhilaration of wind and rain on your face.”
Authorities have published a calendar so the best times to get out bird watching showing the seasons of activity, with the help of a bird watching society.
The message is simply put “Get out there” with the elements. Doesn’t need to be fancy just get out for a short walk, or go out fot the day. Dont forget to wrap up warm and be prepared.