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Nature can help restore us as we deal with coronavirus

One study after another documents nature’s positive effects on physical and mental health for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Thomas Frisbie | Sun-Times

As a society, we are experiencing a period of unprecedented stress and uncertainty. But nature can be a guide to us at this time, providing a model of cooperation, a place to heal, and ways to connect, even at the recommended distance.

In nature, cooperation abounds.

As author Peter Wohlleben, of “The Hidden Life of Trees” explored, “[trees] send distress signals about drought and disease, for example, or insect attacks, and other trees alter their behavior when they receive these messages.” While social distancing feels like a sacrifice now, the stay at home order has saved countless lives, from high-risk populations to medical and service professionals. Altering our behavior at this critical time, just as nature does in the face of challenges, is community resilience in action.

Even at a safe distance, nature heals.

One study after another documents its positive effects on physical and mental health for people of all ages and backgrounds. Nature offers balm and solace to the weary — being a source of beauty, wonder, and inspiration. And nature can be found everywhere — including in the trees outside your apartment or home.

Nature connects us.

Looking out your window you can see it, as the birds have begun their grand migration through our region. Living in a major flyway, residents can experience this annual spectacle, just as those thousands of miles away experienced it, reminding us just how interconnected we are.

As we collectively wade through this worldwide pandemic, nature’s resilience should serve as our guide. Through collective cooperation, connection and healing, we will overcome this moment and thrive as nature blooms today.

It is only right that we take this time to reconnect with it.

Jerry Adelmann is the president & CEO of Openlands, a conservation organization in the Chicago area.