We are well into the holiday season, having just recently celebrated and given thanks for the gift of family, friends, and the abundance we enjoy. As the season continues we move ever deeper into winter, with shorter days and longer nights; an opportunity to spend more “inside time” and prepare for celebrations throughout the month.

I pondered, as I walked past a cedar the other day – its fragrance wafting around me – how important our connection is to green and foliage at this time of year. Evergreen wreaths, Christmas trees, garlands, even the (invasive, I know!) holly and the ivy referenced in the old folk song, bring to us memories of summer days and send our thoughts forward with hope and expectations for the new year; a new season of life and growth. No wonder we bring the outside in for the holidays.

There is an ever growing body of research that confirms our connection to trees and the associated vegetation in forests and parks, both wild and urban. Spending time outdoors can lower stress, blood pressure, and positively influence health outcomes. Doctors have recognized the connection, and so has Washington State Parks. Through Park Rx America, they are teaming up to get more people moving outside in our beautiful northwest landscape. Your doctor can prescribe a trip to a park to help improve your health!

But of course you don’t have to wait for your doc to send you outside. Try it yourself. Take care of yourself. Take a walk with the trees. Take a deep breath. Enjoy a moment. Enjoy the season.

Happy holidays!

By Linden J. Lampman, program manager, DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program