Engelse tekst van de presentatie door Petra Heeren-Hoff op het congres van de International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine (INFOM) op 18 mei 2019 in Uenomura (Japan) over de stand van onderzoek in 2019 in Nederland. De nummers in de tekst corresponderen met de dia’s in de bijgevoegde film van de powerpoint.
A very good evening to you all. I am very honored to be here as a representative of the Netherlands. My name is Petra Heeren Hoff, and I am the director of Shinrin-yoku Nederland and I have my own coaching practice as a mental health coach. As a coach I always take my clients for a walk in the woods. Most of my clients are very intelligent people and are struggling with how to arrange their overfull life without collapsing. They are what I call Brain-people. They are basically very large heads with millions of thoughts swirling around. They often don’t remember that they also have bodies attached at the neck. And they have forgotten how to interpret the signals their body is sending them, almost arguing logically their way out of listening. Nature is very beneficial for my ‘type’ of clients. One client I had could for the first time in years actually feel her feet again after a session.
Well enough about that, I don’t need to convince you of the benefits of being in nature, as you are all shinrin-yoku practitioners. I am going to give you a brief overview of the way the idea of shinrin-yoku is finding its way in Dutch social and environmental studies.
The word shinrin-yoku is not widely spread in the Netherlands although it is starting to get recognized a lot more. Every lifestyle magazine has at least had an article about it. The mysterious sound of shinrin-yoku is attractive and hip. But in academic circles it is not word that is used often. It is the concept of healthy living with nature that is taking ground. The academic research that has taken place in the last few years is growing. It still is not very much, but most projects are broadly shared and the result of collaborations between universities, social organizations and field organizations.
The professor in natural experience at Groningen University, Agnes van den Berg, is doing wonderful and diverse research as you can see on the sheet.
Now I only have five minutes, so I cannot talk to you about these research programs in depth, but I will try and add some highlights. Also I have put weblinks that will lead you to the research programs on the sheet, so you can read more about it if you’re interested.
Green hospitals is a collaboration between Groningen University, Free University Amsterdam, IVN (Institute for Nature Education and Durability) and hospital Tergooi in Blaricum, esp. oncology, children’s an geriatric wards.
The Chemo garden for oncology patients is an especially designed green pavilion where patients can have a nature experience whilst having their chemo treatment. A survey has shown that patients prefer to have their chemo in this pavilion with its wooden structure, glass roof and green plants because they could enjoy the weather and have a sensory experience of nature and fresh air.
The nature experience cabinet for young patients is called the Nature Explorer and has different kinds of nature related games, puzzles, books and crafting sets. A survey has shown that children really enjoy playing at the cabinet. The survey however does not show a significant improvement on their mood or emotions.
The greening of the geriatric home at Tergooi hospital consisted of the placement of green plants in the central hall and seating areas. Also the staff room had a green metamorphosis. The placement of green walls in the corridors was a great success as well. It is to early yet to make a survey of the results in health and wellbeing, but the lookout is promising.
A cost-benefit analysis conducted by dr. Karin Tanja Dijkstra has shown that there is a positive correlation for greening a hospital: the costs are relatively small, whilst the costs for medication and duration of stay are expected to lessen.
Prof. Agnes van den Berg however also sees a challenge: How can one ensure that general practitioners and healthcare professionals are going to prescribe and apply ‘green care’ in their daily practice? She points out the difficulty science has to prove a one-to-one relationship between a green environment and the general health of people. She argues to direct the research in a direction of the relationship between a green environment and a better functioning of the immune system, for this can be scientifically measured and proven.
Green learning schoolyards is a collaboration of University Leiden, Free University Amsterdam, IVN, Thomas More University, the Sophia Foundation, Fund 1818 and Groningen University.
Nine primary schools participated in this project. The research project aims to concretize an describe the proceeds of green schoolyards for the educational learning process. Focal points are: attention and focus, games and movements, and aspects of the social and emotional development of children. Furthermore the project aims to support primary school teachers for an integral use of green schoolyards in the educational learning process.
First results show that green schoolyards have a positive impact on the wellbeing of children in primary school. After the greening of the schoolyard, children appreciated their schoolyards more. After playing in the green schoolyard children were able to focus more on learning in class. The research also has given leads that a green schoolyard challenges girls to more intense movement behavior and it stimulates pro-social behavement, especially with younger children.
The project of green daycare for young children has started last year. Because of growing urbanization and other causes many children are growing up in an environment with a shortage of nature. Green daycare wants to ensure that children from a very young age will have a regular and sensory contact with nature so they can build a bond with nature. This bond may support the development of self-esteem and other personal competences. In the long run this bond can be an important indicator of happiness, health, environmental awareness and social behavior.
The project has started with creating awareness about the benefits of nature and educating daycare professionals about how to integrate nature in their daily programs. 84 caretakers at 12 daycare centers are participating in this project. The second part of the project is surveying the daily practice of green daycare and monitoring the effects on the children. About 600 children at 24 green daycare centers will be taking part in this evaluation.
The doctoral research of Roald Pijpker about green programs for the rehabilitation of young employees with burnout has recently started. In this research walking coaches who are specializing in the treatment of burnout are participating and sharing their experiences and data.
Now I would like to share two building projects with you that are taking place right now in the Netherlands and Belgium:
Radboud University Medical Center has adopted this new hospital philosophy of a healing environment. The natural environment will radiate peace and tranquility and this will help patients to recover faster. The hospital emphasizes in this newspaper article that the positive effects of nature have been scientifically proven. Especially for patients on the oncology, internal surgery and neurology ward.
The new building will have green rooftop terraces and will be looking out on a green environment. This will help speeding up the recovery of the patients. In numbers: the situation now is 480.000 m2 of buildings and concrete. In 2025 it will be 380.000m2, and these 100.000m2 will be replaced with nature.
The other project is at the academic Hospital St.Lucas in Belgium. They had a wonderful short film, which unfortunately I was not able to put in my presentation. But I put in two stills which say: this is not a forest. This is your waiting room.
This hospital is located at the forest of Steenbrugge and they have made walking routes through the forest complete with an indication of walking distance and time as well as information about the walk. The idea is that while you wait for your appointment, you can already start healing.
These are the projects in the Netherlands and Belgium that I have knowledge of. Probably there are many more that I am not aware of.
I would very much like to introduce my own two projects which are taking place right now her in Japan. I am traveling around for three weeks, visiting the Shinrin-yoku centers in Okutama and Akasawa as well as the luscious forests here in Uenomura. My projects are not what you would call scientific research projects, I much more view them as philosophical or maybe even spiritual projects, but based on scientific grounds.
My first project is a documentary that I am making about shinrin-yoku and my work as a walking mental health coach. For this documentary I am collaborating with ms Zarayda Groenhart who is a well-known documentary maker in the Netherlands. In Japan I am interviewing people who are involved with shinrin-yoku, for instance I interviewed dr. Qing Li this very afternoon. He was a very agreeable interviewee. The documentary will be ready this summer.
My other project is a photoproject in which I try to ‘capture’ the essence of shinrin-yoku on camera. The project will result in a book. The book publication will be later this year. There is more to this book than just a nice book with photos of nature. Let me explain: After I read a lot about shinrin-yoku in the last years I started thinking to myself: It is wonderful to be in nature. Unfortunately not everyone is capable to do so. For example people who are lying in a hospital bed, those who are in poor health or staying at a closed-off ward at a mental institution. It would be very beneficial if these people could also experience nature the shinrin-yoku way. Because scientific evidence in the research of Ulrich in 1984 and Lee and others in 2012 has shown that looking at nature has a same wholesome effect on people as being in nature.
So I wanted to create a nature experience for people who are incapable of going outside by themselves. With this book you can bring the forest inside and experience the wholesome effects of nature. It will be about using your five senses and submerging oneself in nature by looking at nature. The book will have texture, so you can feel it, it will have photos of nature that will make you feel like you are standing in nature yourself, it will have a playing list with sounds of nature, and if possible I really would like to have fragrance patches in the book (= if you scratch them there will be a pine scent or lavender scent), and if it’s not possible I would like to attach a small bottle of essential oil to the book, preferably hinoki. Also I would like to attach a sachet of Japanese tea.
In the book there will be a simple roadmap how to create your own shinrin-yoku experience without going outside. It will be a book that can be bought in hospital shops, local and major bookshops. BLKVLD publishers is going to publish my book and it will be in Dutch, English and Japanese. However, most of the book will consist of photos, there will be only 15% text.
The book will be available in 2020. If you are interested in the book, please find me after the presentation or email me.
And for now a premiere: You will be the first to get a preview of my book in the next slides!
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That brings me to the end of my presentation. Thank you for your attention. If there are any questions I would be pleased to answer them.