Especially these days when many of us are asked to stay or work at home, those 4 walls can quickly suffocate you. The digital world can be a blessing for you to stay connected with your friends, family, colleagues and customers. But it can also take you prisoner, dominating everything you do. Instead of having a nimble mind that can deal creatively with novel situations, you can start feeling overwhelmed, increasingly anxious, overly distracted. If you notice that although you’re working harder the quality of your work is declining, it is time to recharge your brain. It’s time to reconnect with the physical world, with nature.
Your brain needs recharging
Your brain consumes 20% of your total body’s energy. To stay on top of your feet, to continue to think flexible and to make wise decisions, you need to give your brain a break. Especially your prefrontal cortex – the command center – needs to dial down and rest regularly. There are many ways to do this. One of them is to reconnect with nature. It’s a safe and low-cost/free solution to boost your health and well-being.
Nature will Nurture
Researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School analyzed mental health data from 10,000 people living in a city. They found that people living near more green space reported less mental distress, even after adjusting for income, education, and employment. Researchers in Scotland found less death and disease in people who lived near parks or other green space. And many more of these results have been demonstrated.
Forest bathing, a physiological and psychological exercise originated in Japan (called shinrin-yoku), is now recognised by health insurances in multiple countries as a therapy to combat stress and increase overall well-being. Forest bathing is taking in the forest through our senses – or in other words practicing mindfulness in a nature environment.
When you’re feeling stressed-out, your brain signals that cortisol needs to be produced and released in your body. So far so good. But when cortisol-levels are elevated for too long, this interferes with your learning and memory, lowers your immune function and bone density, and increases blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, and weight. One of the ways nature nurtures, is by significantly reducing your levels of stress hormone cortisol. In other words, nature has a positive effect on your brain and body.
Your nature prescription
Based on the latest research this is my nature prescription for you:
At least 3 times/week, spend 20-30 minutes anywhere outside that, in your opinion, includes a sufficiency of natural elements to feel like a nature interaction.
Turn your phone off and put it away where you can’t see or feel it. You should be consciously interacting with nature not with your device. Explore what you experience through your 5 senses. Enjoy!