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  • Writer's pictureAviva Nirenberg

a dose of nature: a powerful ADHD Treatment

What if there were a powerful remedy for your ADHD symptoms with absolutely no side effects? - well, aside from the occasional skinned knee, mosquito bite, or sun burn. Would you be interested? Research conducted on a group of over 500 Children and Adults by University of Illinois Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Frances Kuo, PhD found that spending time outside in nature has a significant positive impact on ADHD symptoms.

Spending as little as 20 minutes around grass, trees or at a sandy beach markedly reduced ADHD hyperactivity and impulsivity, while improving focus, motivation, short term memory and learning.

Participants in the study also reported lower levels of stress and anxiety.

Interestingly, an additional research study by Dr. Rachel Kaplan of University of Michigan showed that even working or playing in a room with a view of nature has a beneficial effect on ADHD symptoms and positive emotions. Dr. Rachel Kaplan and her husband, Dr. Stephen Kaplan also a professor of psychology at University Michigan became curious about the effects of nature on our mood and our cognitive abilities after Rachel Kaplan moved offices. For 17 years, Rachel Kaplan's window overlooked a barren courtyard. Then, when she changed offices, she had a view of the tree tops. She could could now gaze at the trees and watch the squirrels and birds leap or fly from branch to branch. The room with a view was certainly an aesthetic upgrade, but what she didn't expect was how the new view upgraded the way she felt.

What the Drs. Kaplan discovered through their research was that exposure to nature replenishes and refills our mental batteries. After a period of sustained attention whether at school, work, or at home our brains our fatigued. Our "brain battery" that controls are ability to focus, regulate our emotions, and our behavior becomes depleted over time. Getting outside in a natural environment recharges that battery.

The restorative effects are magnified for those with ADHD who already struggle with attention and self-regulation.

So when you or your child need a break, get outside and enjoy nature. How can you encourage more green time? Plan a picnic, hike, or scavenger hunt. Plant a garden in your yard or on your balcony. Fly a kite, bike, or go fishing. The options are endless and it's simple, fun, free, and accessible.

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