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Finding Comfort and Calm in Nature

  • It’s no secret that cancer’s effects go far beyond the physical. In fact, the raw emotions you might feel after your diagnosis—from anger to sadness to fear—might be more overwhelming than anything else.

    There are many ways to deal with these feelings, like joining a support group or writing in a journal. But there’s one simple, effective option that you might not have thought of: spending time in nature.

    Research shows that enjoying the great outdoors can help improve mood; increase energy; and ease feelings of stress, depression and anxiety. In fact, many cancer patients cite nature as one of their most powerful coping mechanisms.

    How nature helps

    What makes nature so comforting?

    For one, studies show that spending time in green spaces can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. That can help you feel calmer and less anxious. And it’s not just seeing greenery or listening to chirping birds. Even the smell of fresh forest air contains compounds that seem to boost feelings of relaxation and vitality, experts have found.

    There’s more. Being in nature is like a mini vacation—it’s a temporary escape from the stress of daily life with cancer, which might involve multiple treatments and doctors’ visits. Even a short respite can give you a chance to slow down and reflect on your thoughts. It can also be an opportunity to connect with a friend or family member, if you choose to have someone join you.

    Reap the benefits

    There’s no right or wrong way to bring more nature into your life, so do what works best for you. Take a walk in the woods or on a nearby nature path, if you’re feeling up to it. Or just soak up the sights, sounds and scents while sitting in a garden or park. Chances are, you’ll come away feeling refreshed.

    Nature and Fox Chase

    There are many places close to Fox Chase Cancer Center where you can get out of the hospital, relax, and enjoy a breath of fresh air.

    Burholme Park

    Burholme Park

    1400 Cottman Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19111
    Located right in front of Fox Chase, Burholme Park is a wonderful place to sit and enjoy nature. With plenty of benches and picnic tables, bring your lunch and dine alfresco. It’s the perfect spot if you only have a little time to get outside.

    Temple University Hospital – Jeanes Campus Walking Trail

    Temple University Hospital – Jeanes Campus Walking Trail

    7600 Central Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19111
    Right next to Fox Chase is the Temple University Hospital – Jeanes Campus Walking Trail. Just head towards Hartle Avenue from the main Jeanes Campus parking lot and you will come across this lovely walking trail, which is short 1/4 mile loop. So even if you are short on time you will be able to get a lap in.

    Friends of Fox Chase Farm

    Friends of Fox Chase Farm

    8500 Pine Rd, Jenkintown, PA 1904
    Located only 7 minutes from Fox Chase is Friends of Fox Chase Farm. It is one of only two working farms within the city of Philadelphia. With a dirt trail running around the farm, you are able to take in not only nature but farm life as well.

    Pennypack Park

    Pennypack Park

    8750 Pine Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19115
    Pennypack Park has everything you could want to enjoy the outdoors: picnic tables set along Pennypack Creek, a paved walking trail through the park, and dirt trails through the woods for the more adventurous hiker.

    This article was updated February 2020 to update the name of the Temple University Hospital – Jeanes Campus Walking Trail.