Nature is the Cure
We have reached the height of summer and there is nothing that heals the body and mind more than spending time in the sunshine and opened air. Numerous scientific studies have shown that spending even a short amount of time outside in nature can have a dramatic effect on your mental and emotional wellbeing. One study at University of Michigan found that people who took a walk in nature tested 20% better with short term memory than those who walked in an urban setting. In another study conducted in China, researchers found that “bathing in nature” reduced oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory cells as well as serum cortisol levels. Basically a little fresh air and sunshine goes a long way to improving your overall health. So what if you live in the urban jungle surrounded by concrete and sky scrapers? How do you find your dose of nature’s medicine?
In Chicago we actually have some great outdoor spaces to spend time with nature. Take the afternoon or just your lunch break in one of these urban sanctuaries and find that you have recharged your mental battery and balanced your vital energy.
Jackson Park – South Chicago
Jackson Park is a beautiful 500-acre park located on Lake Michigan in the Woodlawn neighborhood. There are walking paths that wind around small lakes and ponds that are abound with birds and wildlife. Jackson Park also features Osaka Garden a Japanese stroll garden with a foot bridge and turtle pond.
Jackson park is free to the public and is easy accessible by the lake front bike path. You can spend a whole afternoon or just your lunch break in this natural space right in the city.
Garfield Park – West Chicago
Garfield park is a 185-acre park on the west side of Chicago. This park has great landscaped walking paths that wind around the natural lagoon. Spending just 20 minutes sitting on a park bench near the water and you can catch a glimpse of some of the rare water birds that nest on the marshy ponds.
Another thing to checkout while visiting this public park is the Garfield Park Conservatory. This absolutely stunning greenhouse features both indoor and outdoor gardens. The tropical plants will transport your senses to another place and let you relax in the warmth of the garden paradise.
Lincoln Park – North Chicago
Lincoln park is another great outdoor space located right on the shore of Lake Michigan. This 1200-acre urban park stretches along the shoreline and is full of plants, birds, butterflies and much more. This park also has two large ponds to find a quiet place to observe the breeze touching the water and watch birds glide across the surface.
Besides the free Lincoln Park Zoo, this park also has an amazing indoor conservatory. The Lincoln Park Conservatory has a stunning collection of exotic and ancient plants, some of which are extremely rare in the wild. One of the best things about these indoor gardens is that they are there even on a rainy day.
Millennium Park – The Loop
Millennium Park is located smack in the center of downtown Chicago on the lake front. This 320-acre park has winding walkways that can give you some peace even in the heart of the city. You can find a soft place in the grass to lay down and star up at the clouds and forget for a moment about the hustle of the city around.
The Lurie Garden is a four season garden in Millennium Park. The Lurie Garden pays homage to the natural history of the land that Chicago was built on. It displays deciduous plans that have graced the sandy shores of Lake Michigan and marshes that spread inland. When you listen to a breeze gently rustle the grasses you are hearing a song that has been played on this land for thousands of years. This is surly a wonderful and easily accessible urban oasis.
For more information about parks and outdoors space in Chicago visit the Chicago Park District website
Arrabella Schippers MMT, CPT, CHC