“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
— Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Humans are creatures of habit and, unfortunately, most of us live lives that are ruled by routine: wake up, make breakfast, drop the kids off at school, head to work, exercise, and make dinner for the family. As adults, we rarely get the desire or the opportunity to commune with nature. A snowfall becomes a nuisance rather than the small miracle it used to be for us when we were children. Instead of building intricate snowmen, we worry about the delay the snow will cause in our commute and the extra work it will take for us to shovel it from our driveways.
This is a shame as studies suggest that being around nature helps decrease stress and stimulate creativity. Roger Ulrich and colleagues of Texas A&M University performed an experiment in which they purposely stressed the participants before exposing them to scenes and stimuli from nature. This experiment showed that the participants exposed to scenes from nature regained calm much quicker than those exposed to urban scenes. Also in a 2012 study, David L. Strayer and colleagues showed that hikers on a four-day backpacking trip solved 47 per cent more puzzles requiring creativity than the control group of people waiting to take the same hike.
Being around nature has a beneficial effect on both our mental and emotional well-being. Many people complain about and suffer from the stressors of modern life, which aren’t helped by the ugly concrete urban landscapes of most cities. Being able to periodically get in touch with nature can help to alleviate these stressors.
Here are some ways to build the restorative power of nature into our daily routines:
1—Begin your day by going outside.
Whether to walk the dog or to have a cup of coffee in the garden, communing with nature early in the day will give your brain a cognitive boost that will last throughout the day.
2—Grow your own food.
Nurturing a green thumb not only allows you to enjoy a relaxing new hobby but also gives you the satisfaction of eating delicious fruits and vegetables that would normally cost premium prices.
3—Make the most of the parks, woods and green spaces that are available in your community.
If the weather permits it, why not go for a stroll, play Frisbee or meditate underneath a tree during lunch?
4—Bring the outdoors in.
Why not keep houseplants at your home or desk? Houseplants have been shown to improve focus and alleviate stress and anxiety. You can also play nature sounds on your phone, open a window or keep a small splashing water fountain nearby.
N. Boutamine | The Edge Blog