Why does Freshly cut Grass Smell so Good?

Mmmmm it’s like that smell transports us. With winter getting closer, the parks are getting their last manicure until Spring.  So let’s get under the hood of that lawnmower!

How is it, that a feel-good can come with just an inhale of something so seemingly simple, triggering places real and imagined, big bales of hay, sunny riverbanks or parks where we played – it’s a sense of carefree.

Plants have been around much longer than us.  We think they’re not so smart, but they’ve got much more going on than we previously gave them credit for.  The smells of plants are a language.  Predominately for each other but also for the insects that evolved along side them.  For instance this wonder whiff that we are so drawn, is a straight up a grass warning to other grass that they’re about to get their heads chopped off!  The grass in reaction is triggered to pull it’s nutrients deeper in order to save it’s food supply and in time regrow.

Insect messages from the plants have different scents for other challenges. For instance, to get rid of an enemy that is eating them. Here a sent signals out luring in other insects to eat the insects that are munching on them!   But what about us? Well that fresh smell which is often simply called green odor, (or GVL for those who want to rabbit hole)  has a psychological effect, not just for us but for our genetic relatives, the apes. This green odor – a complex mixture of chemicals – triggers parts of our brain that can heal our stress and even reduce pain.  When mixed up in a different way it can also send a lure that we really love that says ‘come get me’ I’m ripe!  But for them it’s actually saying ‘come spread my seeds’! They have us at their mercy!  Think the smell of oranges, lemons or apples when you cut into their juicy offerings.  Another hook so that we return to them is that breathing in the smells actually helps uplift and reduce depression.

However, our plant friends don’t like to give everything at once to the scientists.  The scent of freshly cut grass also triggers something called the Proust Effect, where with a little inhale of it’s green magic,  positive memories come to mind and lots of feel good.  We have yet to understand this fully, but until then we can just enjoy the bouquet.

the smell of freshly cut grass makes you feel great
why the smell of freshly cut grass makes you feel great

Nature Sense is about ‘going outside to feel good inside’ – naturally. About finding something every day to feel positive about, something for many that stands in stark contrast to a tablet that numbs you from feeling at all.   Now, with an understanding perhaps when you hear that distant burr of the lawn mower you know that as the noise subsides that the ‘whispering grass’ are sending us their secret gift of feel-good at a time we may most need it!

Natural biohacking tip:  Try walking  bare foot in the freshly cut grass, the extra moisture will enhance your earthing, which reduces inflammation within the body. If you can stand or sit amongst the grass and breathe deeply with your mouth closed, your nasal receptors can take in all the benefits.   Face the light and relax, enjoy that last wiff before the winter sleeps set in.

Walk and Talk Therapy

walk and talk london therapy nature

Going outside is a proven feel good. Uncomplicated and forgiving.

What is Walking Therapy?  It’s therapy outside.  I often sit with my clients on a big tree trunk, shaded by a canopy of leaves.  Other times we just walk around the park and depending on the time of the year can grab a few blackberries on the way.  Therapy outside is all about you, but it’s making you feel better through talking, but also walking in a positive surrounding.   It helps with perspective so often and provides you with an introduction to doing the same, going for a walk – without your therapist.

So what’s behind it all?   Research from all over the world is showing that people who spend quality time in green space have fewer health complaints and live longer and that the green space itself is a stress buffer, helping people cope better with life’s adversity. Other studies have found that invisible chemicals (called phytoncides) in some trees can reduce stress hormones, lower anxiety and improve blood pressure and immunity.  It can also help us sleep deeper and actively help us to ‘sleep ourselves well’.

We all know instinctively that being outdoors provides us with the benefits of getting natural sunlight, which comes in the form of much needed vitamin D.  What we may not know is that being outdoors in the sunshine provides our system with a natural stabilisation of hormones especially melatonin levels –  a super healer and regulated of our system.  Unfortunately melatonin is what is destroyed when you spend a lot of time with the screen.

Taking of Tech, studies have shown that screen time is associated with increased fatigue, depression, anxiety, ADHD in children, and poor concentration.  Enter the Japanese researchers, who have found that people who lived closer to or near forests had significantly lower rates of lung, breast, uterine, prostate, kidney, and colon cancers.  The health improvements of walking in forests has even led them to open Forest Hospitals with astonishing recovery for the patients even needing less medication!  So wouldn’t it make sense to want a little of that?

What happens if you’re based in a city like London – not exactly the amazon.  Good news nature benefits us even if it comes in little urban pockets.  In fact in the city there’s even a greater need to connect outside and outside yourself. Walking, Talking – you feel not just good – but double good.

If you don’t have a park, it can be a river or the coast.  Walking and talking is beneficial, but do make sure you’re therapist has trained for walking and talking therapy and that they’re insured to do so.

Feedback:  I felt so much better after having met with Fiona outside as opposed to the usual therapy rooms. ( I was even able to  take my dog !)  It was empowering.

Another client combined both online and being in the park by talking to me on his phone, while I too was outside, he said, “It was such a great session, refreshing and afterwards I was really able to process surrounded by the trees and flowers in the park”. 

Finally: I loved my session outside, it was so relaxed and easier to talk there.  We sat in the shade on a really warm day, drinking water and chatting.  I felt really hopeful afterwards.  

Book in for a complimentary chat or walk and talk appointment here

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Note:  If you’re a therapist or coach and would like to learn how to integrate walking and talking into your practice we hold training sessions – ( outside, not online )  during the months of May-September.  More here.