To The Deep Dark Woods!

Get your wellies on to get well.

Many of us enjoy a walk in the wild, wild woods, especially at this time of mellow fruitfulness when the “fallen leaves jewel the ground”. Now it has been scientifically proven that it is good for us.

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On BBC’s Gardeners World on Friday night we were told that Doctors are now prescribing spending time in nature for various conditions such as stress, burnout and depression. At first sight this might sound like a good idea; Doctors recognising the benefits of such ordinary activities, not just issuing medication. However, prescribing such activities is different from just recommending them.

Gardeners World also told us that researchers in the UK have conducted a study to work out what the recommended dose of nature should be. The answer; two hours a week. Now we know. I guess this means we should be careful to avoid overdoses and dependence.

In a week when words have risen to the top of the news agenda should we be wondering what on earth is going on? Is there something absurd that words like prescribing and dose are being used in connection with such ordinary activities? Is it evidence that the very successful narrative behind medicine and so-called evidence based science is colonising every aspect of our lives? Do we really need to be told by Doctors and researchers that two hours a week experiencing nature is a form of treatment? This sort of science first treats our reactions and feelings as if they can only be symptoms of disorders and conditions; then appropriates ordinary activities and claims them as treatments

While it might be generally true that a walk in the woods might, for some of us, lift our spirits, it is not true for everyone. This sort of science treats us as if we are all the same; that we don’t have different ideas, values, hopes and fears; and that we don’t already know what works for us. Some would hate the wind, the rain, the mud and slush, the smell of decay, the thought of the coming dark days, the lost summer. And what if in our health-restoring wandering we were to come across the Gruffalo?