Photo: Has nature saved you?

Spotting this Tiger Salamander last week, near Edmonton, totally made my day. Doesn't the sheer sight of it make you happy?

Sometimes I get cranky.

You know those days we all have: the computer crashes, a hefty parking ticket materializes on the windshield, or worse — a family member falls ill or divorce strikes (BTW, divorce is bad for the planet).

What if nature could make you feel better? (I know you're thinking of a time when it has.)

Contact with nature reduces stress, promotes physical and emotional well-being, and has even been shown to boost cognition. People actually think more clearly after a walk in fresh air, because our brains release a happy chemical called serotonin.

Maintaining, protecting or restoring green space for the birds and the bees is important, but living near green spaces encourages people to be physically active, so it's healthier for our species, too. Researchers even found that parks, playing fields and forests greatly narrow health gaps between the rich and poor.

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Nature can be a local green space — a treed boulevard, community garden, or creek running through your neighborhood — or more "official" like a provincial or federal park. In Seven Reasons for a New Nature Movement, Richard Louv says the more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.

(Please finish reading this blog before you log off and go outside.)

And don't underestimate having a view of nature. Researchers, like Roger Ulrich and others, have shown that a view of nature (rather than a brick wall of an adjacent building) from a hospital room's window aids recovery from surgery, leads to less use of health care services among prison inmates, improves work performance in job settings, and increases job satisfaction. (Do you have a poster or picture with nature scenes decorating your cubicle?)

Tell us about your relationship with the great outdoors. Take our nature survey by September 16th and you could win a copy of Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods.

When has time spent outside — could be a special place or a wildlife sighting — saved you?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

September 12, 2011

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Jun 29, 2012
1:33 PM

I have loved the outdoors since my tiny toes touched the ground! With my dogs, my kayak, the woods, the lakes, the beaches, the sky and the wind in my hair…Nature helps me daily to beat the severe depression that tries to pull me down! 50 years a blessing!

Oct 18, 2011
9:15 PM

Good Evening. There are a few special places I like to retreat to .One is the Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island, Ladner B,C.A picturesque little paradise

Sep 15, 2011
12:45 PM

yes .. she has saved me and more than once .. As a very young child > Nature saved me from a great deal of abuse and chaos in my home .. she couldn't save me from 'all' of it .. but I am eternally grateful that when I could run > She was Always there for me. The First time I ran from the hitting and yelling I was 4. I ran a long time, until I was too tired. Exhausted .. and it kind of makes me a little sad for the little girl I was .. just thinking of the time that was. .. I really am grateful that I was close enough to a wooded area that I could run to. The first day I ran til I stopped exhausted and fell asleep.. the dream I had brought me back there many times :) I believe Nature really did save my life .. and today I Still go there on a regular basis .. different woodland .. but the same 'feeling'/connection.. :) I'm lucky

Sep 14, 2011
10:42 AM

Thank you for the comments everyone! It is so nice to hear the positive feelings that moments in nature can impress upon us. @Jean, thank you for filling out the survey and I am looking into getting your responses to you. The David Suzuki Foundation also has plans to share some of these beautiful moments later this fall on our website for all to enjoy. Keep ‘em coming!

Sep 13, 2011
12:30 AM

Nature has saved me. The whisper of the wind soothes the soul. The sun's radiance kisses me from head to toe on the beach. The lapping of the tide calms me. I feel just fine.

Sep 12, 2011
7:34 PM

The first comment by Gail resonates very much with my captivation with the sound of wind through trees, though I am not a child of the prairies! :) I was born and raised in southern Ontario in a suburb of Toronto. And the tree´ related memories from my youth were the main focus in my initial responses to thenature survey´. Trees are undeniably majestic!

Sep 12, 2011
7:18 PM

I just filled out the survey..if it´s possible I would like a copy of my answers please! It took me a while to compose, and I would like to have the thoughts and emotions that I shared and reflected upon available to me to keep as a momento! Thank you :)

Sep 12, 2011
10:32 AM

As a child of the prairies, I grew up feeling a great kinship with the wind. The sound of wind in trees stirs me, and big gusts roaring in my ears takes me back in time, and always makes me smile. Treetops or grasses swaying is a joyous dance to me — and it's practically everywhere, if you take time to look and listen.

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