»We have our health!«

Editorials by Mathias Fridholm

“We have our health. That’s the main thing.” That’s how my grandmother would always end our phone calls in her lilting southern Swedish accent. I used to speak to her at least once a week right up until she passed away around a year ago. And grandma was right! Health and well-being is and always will be the most important issue for generation after generation. Old sayings can sometimes feel a little outdated, but occasionally a quote such as “health is not valued till sickness comes” springs to mind.

However, what is considered healthy and beneficial varies over time. Grandma always thought cream was the best thing you could eat – maybe not surprising if you grew up in the harsh reality of rural Sweden in the early 1900s. And what happened to eating 6–8 slices of bread a day…? It’s a while since I heard anyone recommend that. But although many health trends these days come and go in a flash, some endure.

Being out in the forest and countryside has a calming effect on us humans. It lowers the pulse and blood pressure, improves concentration and boosts our sense of well-being. The phrase “forest bathing” first entered the Swedish lexicon in 2017, but the concept of the forest’s calming and invigorating effect is well documented. It originates from the Japanese word Shinyin-Roku, which is the notion that human contact with nature is good for our health.

But did you know about evidence suggesting that wood has the same calming effect as the forest? Research in this field is unfortunately still rather thin on the ground, but a number of studies support the theory. For example, a study in Austria reported an improvement in students’ concentration when the classrooms were made of wood. Being able to reduce stress and ill-health by living in wooden homes and using more wood in interiors is an interesting and not unreasonable proposition. I personally love sharing my life with a material that is natural, beautiful, warm and versatile. Sometimes you don’t need scientific results to know what makes you feel good.

Grandma, who thought health was the most important thing of all, lived most of her life in a wooden house. And she lived to the ripe old age of 99 years and 10 months! What more is there to say?

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