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opinion
Read over these examples carefully and discuss how well you think the writers of each paper support their claims for their stated audiences.
Single Point Essay Example
Audience Analysis
A college freshman named Beth represents my audience for this paper. Beth has always idolized doctors and hopes to pursue a profession in the field of medicine. Although medicine fascinates Beth more than any other professional area, arts such as painting, drawing, and architecture captivate her interest as well. As a result of her passion for both science and art, Beth chose to major in biology and minor in graphic design while in college.
Many aspects of Beth’s life have changed since starting college, causing her to develop general anxiety about her classes, personal relationships, and overall path in life. This anxiety has begun to create issues for Beth, as she finds herself constantly worried and stressed about the difficult path to becoming an accomplished doctor. Currently, Beth views medicine as the primary solution to illness and stress; however, practices such as yoga, mindfulness, and meditation have started to peak her interest as viable methods to reduce negative feelings. Because Beth bases the majority of her reasoning on factual data and hardcore science, she hesitates to adopt such philosophies as potential antidotes to her anxiety, as she views their effects on the body as abstract.
Beth has yet to be shown scientific evidence that indicates how nature affects human health. Given her need for data to validate claims, she will require scientific reasoning before she can grasp the benefits that may arise from interacting with nature. Beth’s biology major has allowed her to develop a comprehensive understanding of bodily functions, and has also expanded her vocabulary with general scientific terminology. The mention of scientific jargon and processes should not confused Beth, nor require in depth explanation.
Despite her dedication to math and science, Beth commonly gets called a “hippie” by her friends because of her love for the outdoors and intrinsic connection to nature. The notion that the natural environment holds health benefits will likely intrigue Beth, as she will want to believe that making time for activities she enjoys could advance her professional goals, by reducing her anxiety, allowing her to function more efficiently in school. I would characterize her stance on my claim as both enthusiastic and skeptical. Despite her predisposition to assume the health advantages of engaging with nature, Beth demands the presentation of evidence proving any claim from multiple diverse angle before she can accept the assertion as true.
I will present Beth with scientific data that reiterates my claim through various different facets exemplying the ways in which engagement which nature aid both the mind and the body. I will also articulate my claim in a matter-of-fact manner, which aligns with her method of process of accepting information.
Workshop Evaluation
When I search my mind for a quote that perfectly articulates how I feel about creating good witten pieces, I often ruminate over the saying “Writing is easy. All you do is sit down and open a vein.” The advice from Clark, Lanham, and Hacker forced me to reevaluate the way I write, until receiving their guidance, I was unaware of the numerous bad habits that plagued my writing style.
One of the major editing tools I used while revising my paper was the elimination of “to be” verbs. I believe this singlar tool drastically changed the way I write by enhancing how I convey my claim to my reader. Excluding “to be” verbs from my syntax, forced me to narrow the focus of all of my sentences and allowed me to figure out what I was saying, how I was saying it, and why saying it in that way was the optimal way of relaying an idea to the reader. Eliminating “to be” verbs expanded the vocabulary I used in this paper.
Similarly, to the effect of phasing out “to be” verbs from my paper, Clark’s advice to “activate your verbs” also helped me to isolate issues in my writing. I found myself rereading sentences over and over, trying to figure out why it sounded unclear. I realized my sentences were unclear because I failed to activate my verbs. I now understand how activating your verbs in conjunction with placing the subject and verb towards the beginning of a sentence makes written concise and easy to understand.
I also underestimated the utility of revising a paper sentence by sentence. The process singular sentence editing implied copious amounts of meticulous editing, however, while trying to enhance this paper, I found that fixing one sentence at a time allowed me to develop my argument fluidly and effectively. Prior to ENGL391, I would often skim over papers and make sure the audience could decipher the general idea, rather than ensuring their comprehension through the revision of murky prose to acute sentences. While editing this paper, I applied the various methods we learned in class one sentence at a time; whether that meant phasing out a “to be” verb or rearranging the syntax of a sentence.
I detected errors in my writing by first circling all of the “to be” verbs, drawing square around all of my other verbs, and drawing a triangle around my subjects. This process allowed me to pinpoint an errors that Clark, Lanham, and Hacker warned us to avoid. After isolate the core parts of each sentence, I tried to place myself in the shoe of Beth and think about how the information would resonate with her, forcing me to make my arguments direct, clear, and specific. The peer review was also helpful, as Christopher pointed out small grammatical errors and areas where the point of the paragraph become difficult to follow.
The Paper
Claim: Engaging with nature strengthens human health . Comment by m: This overall main claim narrowly focuses the debate. The writer simply has to demonstrate the strengthening of human health. Notice how each topic sentence of the following paragraphs relate directly to this main claim.
Interacting with nature improves mental health. The presence and absence of sunlight significantly influences brain function. Research suggests that there exists a direct relationship between exposure to sunlight and the synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being (Deppe, 2017). In support of this relationship, numerous individuals experience the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the fall and winter due to their decreased levels of sunlight exposure. Because this limited amount of sunlight hinders the brain’s ability to produce serotonin, SAD commonly manifests itself as feelings of lethargy and hopelessness (Deppe, 2017). Susceptibility to SAD skyrockets during this time of year for two main reasons: the sunlight dwindles during the winter months and the unpleasant weather conditions keep people inside at a higher frequency. Both of these factors indicate an inverse correlation between the absence of sunlight and feelings of well-being. Some researchers even speculate that because the average modern lifestyle primarily occurs indoors, humans may be subject to experiencing this condition year round (Park, 2017). Those who experience intense symptoms of SAD typically counter its effects through a “light box” or “phototherapy machine” that emits bright light at an identical frequency of natural sunlight each morning in order to elevate their mood (Deppe, 2017). SAD patients’ use of a “light box” to stimulate serotonin production and ultimately feelings of happiness demonstrates the vital role frequent exposure to natural light plays in achieving optimum mental health as well as general well-being. Not only does spending time in nature enhance mental health via sun exposure, but it can also result in a stronger and more elastic memory as well as attention span. Comment by m: This topic sentence should accomplish two things: 1) Capture the overall aim of the paragraph; and 2) Relate directly to the main claim of the paper. Comment by m: This study supports the topic sentence. The writer needs additional studies to strengthen the case that nature supports mental health. Find three more studies the writer could use. Comment by m: The transition summarizes what has gone before and links it to the upcoming material.
Nature supports optimal cognitive functioning. The University of Michigan’s Department of Psychology performed elaborate research on the cognitive benefits of human interaction with nature, concluding that attention spans and memory improved by over 20% after an hour of engaging with nature (U-M News, 2008). In contrast, participants in the study who walked through an urban environment saw little or no improvement in memory and attention span. In this particular study, engagement with nature ranged from taking a walk in a park abundant with plant life, to simply looking at pictures of nature scenes. Researchers of this study noted that the temperature outside had no effect on the participants’ increased cognitive function; individuals experienced the same mental benefits in sunny, 80 degree weather as they did in 25 degree weather (U-M News, 2008). This indifference to temperature demonstrates how the health advantages of engaging with nature transcend weather and have the ability to strengthen brain function year round. In addition to increasing serotonin levels and cognitive function, exposure to nature can significantly decrease the production of stress related hormones. Comment by m: This topic sentence relates directly to the main claim of the paper and also encapsulates the supporting material found in the paragraph. Comment by m: Need additional sources of support here—plenty available! Comment by m: This transition well to the next idea.
The sheer sight of plant life allows the parasympathetic nervous system to better calm and relax the body (Citowik, 2016). In Japanese culture, the practice of Shirin-yoku, meaning “forest bathing” continues to works its way into the lifestyles of every generation as a means to alleviate aggression, depression, self-doubt, mental fatigue, and anxiety (Park, 2010). Researchers conducted an experiment in 24 forests across Japan with the goal of comparing bodily functions in urban (mostly indoor) environments to bodily functions in heavily wooded forest areas. Each trial consisted of two study groups who took turns spending time in either the urban (indoor) setting or the heavily wooded setting (Park,2010). Levels of cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate served as indices. The data gathered from the experiment indicate that the heavily wooded, forest environment promoted lower cortisol production, lower blood pressure, and higher parasympathetic nerve activity than the city-like environment (Park,2010). Out of all the indices analyzed, cortisol production most closely relates to both mental and physical health (Pirnia, 2016). This particular hormone, produced by the adrenal gland has the ability (in extremely small doses) to prepare the body for physical and mental challenges during trauma. However, cortisol production in the long-term hampers physical and mental health by raising blood pressure, fat storage, and blood sugar levels, while simultaneously diminishing the body’s ability to fight infections effectively (Pirnia, 2016). Similar studies have drawn a direct relationship between high levels cortisol and the presence of depression and anxiety disorders (Pirnia, 2016). Seeing as though a natural environment induces a lower production of this stress-related hormone and an increased production of serotonin, one may conclude that an outdoor environment aids mental as well as physical health.
The multifaceted effect engaging with nature has on the body exemplifies how time spent outdoors does not exclusively affect human health in a mental capacity, but also has the ability to improve physical health. By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing levels of cortisol the presence of plant life can strengthen the immune system (Li, 2009). A scientific study in Japan analyzed markers of immunity in both men and women after spending three consecutive days in the forest. Before, during, and after participants’ sessions in the forest, researchers measured the activity and amount of “natural killer cells,” lymphocytes (also known as immune cells) that have the ability to destroy cancerous or virus-infected cells present throughout the body (Li, 2009). Researchers also measured the amount of anti-cancer proteins as well as levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. When compared to control measurements taken prior to the forest trip, participants experienced a significant drop in stress hormones, increased levels of anti-cancer proteins, and increased activity in natural killer cells (Li, 2009). Nature’s ability to enhance the body’s immune system and capacity to increase activity among natural killer cells offers overwhelming justification that the natural environment strengthens human health.
Outline
Main Claim: Engaging with nature strengthens human health.
Supporting Claim 1: Interacting with nature improve mental health through sunlight exposure
Evidence:
· Exposure to sunlight catalyzes the production of serotonin.
· In support of the relationship between sunlight and mental health, numerous individuals experience the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD during the fall and winter due to their decreased levels of sunlight exposure.
· Those who experience intense symptoms of SAD typically counter its effects through a “light box” or “phototherapy machine” that emits bright light at an identical frequency of natural sunlight each morning in order to elevate their mood
Warrant: SAD patients’ use of a “light box” to stimulate serotonin production and ultimately feelings of happiness demonstrates the vital role frequent exposure to natural light plays in achieving optimum mental health as well as general well-being
Transition: Not only does spending time in nature enhance mental health via sun exposure, but it can also result in a stronger and more elastic memory as well as attention span.
Evidence:
Supporting Claim 2: Spending time outdoors strengthens memory and results in longer attention spans. Comment by m: This claim actually addresses two different ideas—split this into two parts, one supporting the strengthening of memory and the other supporting longer attention spans.
Evidence:
· The University of Michigan’s Department of Psychology performed elaborate research on the cognitive benefits of human interaction with nature, concluding that attentions spans and memory improved by over 20% after an hour of engaging with nature (U-M News, 2008). In contrast, improvement in memory and attention spans were not apparent in participants who walked through urban environments.
· In this particular study, engagement with nature ranged from taking a walk in a park abundant with plant life, to simply looking at pictures of nature scenes.
Warrant: The fact that nature can strengthen memory and attention span no matter the temperature demonstrates how the health advantages of engaging with nature transcend weather and have the ability to strengthen brain function year round.
Transition: In addition to increasing serotonin levels and cognitive function, exposure to nature can significantly decrease the production of stress related hormones.
Supporting Claim 3: The sheer sight of plant life allows the parasympathetic nervous system to better calm and relax the body.
Evidence:
· In Japanese culture, the practice of Shirin-yoku, meaning “forest bathing” continues to works its way into the lifestyles of every generation as a means to alleviate aggression, depression, self-doubt, mental fatigue, and anxiety
· This practice reduces cortisol
Warrant: Seeing as though a natural environment induces a lower production of this stress-related hormone and an increased production of serotonin, one may conclude that an outdoor environment aids mental as well as physical health.
Transition: The multifaceted effect engaging with nature has on the body exemplifies how time spent outdoors does not exclusively affect human health in a mental capacity, but also has the ability to improve physical health.
Supporting Claim 4: By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing levels of cortisol the presence of plant life can strengthen the immune system
Evidence:
· A scientific study in Japan analyzed markers of immunity in both men and women after spending three consecutive days in the forest. Before, during, and after participants’ sessions in the forest, researchers measured the activity and amount of “natural killer cells,” lymphocytes (also known as immune cells) that have the ability to destroy cancerous or virus-infected cells present throughout the body.
· When compared to control measurements taken prior to the forest trip, participants experienced a significant drop in stress hormones, increased levels of anti-cancer proteins, and increased activity in natural killer cells.
Warrant: Nature’s ability to enhance the body’s immune system and capacity to increase activity among natural killer cells offers overwhelming justification that the natural environment strengthens human health.
Annotated Bibliography
Barton, J, and J Pretty. “What Is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 May 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov./pubmed/20337470 .
The academic journal conducted a multi-study analysis of the ways in which exercising outside (referred to as “green exercise”) affects mental health. The data for the study suggests that exercising outside results in positive mental health outcomes in both the short and long term. The study analyzed 1252 participants and in every green environment, both self-esteem and mood were enhanced. It is important to note that the presence of water significantly enhanced. The data gathered from the study also demonstrated that men and women had similar increases in self-esteem after engaging in “green exercise”; however men did not have as high of a mood increase on average as women did. Participants suffering from mental illness had the highest self-esteem improvements.
Cytowic, Richard E. “Stressed Out? Science Says Look at Some Trees.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 16 May 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-fallible-mind/201605/stressed-out-science-says-look-some-trees .
This article published by Psychology Today on behalf of Dr. Richard E. Cytowic outlined the various health advantages of looking at nature, particularly trees. Cytowic highlights the notion that engaging with nature does not strictly mean being outside and that looking at pictures of nature as well as owning house plants can have a similar effect to actually being outside on the body. Cytowic illuminates the functions of both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in order to explain how they are affected by any kind of engagement with nature. The article references the Japanese traditional practice of Shirin-yoku, which can be translated to “forest bathing” in English in order to exemplify the wondrous health effects of the outdoors on human mental and physical health. As further proof of the health benefits of nature, Dr. Cytowic reference a study down across 24 different forests in Japan that had data suggesting that nature reduces cortisol and other stress-related hormones.
Deppe, Kim. “A Sunny Disposition: Sunlight and Mental Health.” Clay Behavioral Health Center, 11 July 2017, ccbhc.org/a-sunny-disposition-sunlight-and-mental-health/.
This piece of literature was developed by the Clay Behavioral Mental Health Center, an organization dedicated to performing a wide array of mental health research. The reading examines the effect of sunlight on the body, emphasizing the health benefits being outside has on primarily mood. The article also gives an easy to understand, yet scientific explanation for Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD. The piece goes also gives solutions to SAD by explaining how phototherapy effects those with the condition. The end of the article advocates for using sunscreen when outside and as well as suggests exercising in the outdoors enhances health benefits.
F.T.A.N.A., “Health Benefits.” Forest Therapy, Forest Therapy Association of North America Health Benefits, 2013, forest-therapy.net/healthbenefits.html.
Reading this article was helpful in understanding the science behind how plants affect the body through chemical and pheromones. I also spent some time on this website and uncovered many ways that a forest can act as a form of therapeutic. Something I found especially interesting is that this piece went into detail regarding the effect nature has on the blood sugar levels of those suffering from diabetes, suggesting that weekly walks in the forest has positive health benefits with the condition. The article also explained how interacting with nature improved concentration and diminished pain.
Harris, Christine, et al. “Color Psychology: The Psychological Effects of Colors.” Art Therapy, 24 Dec. 2012, www.arttherapyblog.com/online/color-psychology-psychologica-effects-of-colors/#.W6g4LWaZMY1.
I found this article interesting because it analyzed the subconscious and conscious effect of color on the human brain. I have always thought it was fascinating how some people preference certain colors and most food chains chose red and yellow for their logo colors. This article explains the psychological effects of colors, but because I’m most interested in the effect of nature on human health, I study the section on the color green the most. There is a lot of symbolism and meaning behind colors that I never knew existed until reading this article.
Li, Qui, et al. “Effect of Phytoncide from Trees on Human Natural Killer Cell Function.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20074458 .
This scientific journal explained how phytoncide, a chemical released from trees, affects human health, particularly how it enhances the activity of human natural killer cells and intracellular anti-cancer proteins that make up lymphocytes in the body. These cells are responsible for fighting off toxic, cancer-like cells. The experiment studies the effect of essential oils from trees on human immune function. The study found that after being exposed to phytoncide, both men and women experienced an increase in natural killer cells in their bodies, suggesting that spending time outside (particularly around trees) may hold properties that prevent and slow the reproduction of cancer cells. The study also found that on average, stress hormones also decreased after participants were exposed to phytoncide.
Park, Alice. “The Sun and Your Mood: Why Sunlight Is So Good For You.” Time, Time, 7 Aug. 2017, time.com/4888327/why-sunlight-is-so-good-for-you/.
I used this article as a secondary source of information in order to better understand the effects of the sun of mental health. This articles explains the onset of the condition SAD and also offers solutions for alleviating its symptoms. The article also explains how technology makes life indoors appear more appealing than life outdoors, increasing susceptibility to SAD year round. The TIME article also explains the function of serotonin and why it is important in order to experience feelings of well-being.
Park, B J, et al. “The Physiological Effects of Shinrin-Yoku (Taking in the Forest Atmosphere or Forest Bathing): Evidence from Field Experiments in 24 Forests across Japan.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19568835 .
In this scientific journal, researchers examine the practice Shinrin-yoku, also known as “forest bathing.” This term and practice has coined by Japanese culture, as they view it as a method of connecting the universe’s atmosphere. The data collected suggests the practicing Shinrin-yoku can benefit the body and mind by significantly reducing cortisol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels. The Japanese (among other cultures) consider this practice a form a “forest medicine” which these researchers consider to be a growing field in scientific research. It is also important to note the researchers who analyzed the practice of Shinrin-yoku consider it to heal ailments and also prevent the onset of the sickness.
Pirnia, Bijan, et al. “High Cortisol Level and Its Relationship with Depression, Stress and Anxiety Indices in Chronic Methamphetamine-Dependent Patients and Normal Individuals Undergoing Inguinal Hernia Surgery.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5004567/ .
This scientific journal analyzed the relationship between levels of cortisol and mental handicaps such as depression, stress, and anxiety. Because I am seeking to better understand how cortisol affects mental health, this journal was crucial to read as a part of my research. My previous research has suggested that interacting with nature decreases levels of cortisol, therefore understanding the negative effects of cortisol in turn illuminates the many condition aided by time spent in nature. The journal also details how the mental impacts of an unhealthy amount of cortisol can result in numerous physical ailments such as fatigue, insomnia, and lack of hunger.
University of Michigan. “Going Outside-Even in the Cold-Improves Memory, Attention.” University of Michigan News, 16 Dec. 2008, news.umich.edu/going-outsideeven-in-the-coldimproves-memory-attention/.
This article was published by the University of Michigan on behalf of their psychology department and depicted the scientific findings of Marc Berman, John Jonides and Stephen Kaplan (U-M psychology researchers). The researchers of this experiment compared the effects of walking outside on memory and attention span. Based on the data, researchers concluded that time spent walking outside improve memory and attention span by approximately 20% when compared to walking in less natural environments, like cities. The article was sure to specify that temperature had no effect on the observed improvement in mental capacity. Based on the data, research presume that the finding could have an even broader impact on people suffer from any sort of mental fatigue.

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