12 Jan How Nature Improves Health, Happiness and Productivity
As we begin to settle into the winter months, our drive to get outside sputters to a stop. The snow, the chill, the grey…so unappealing when compared with a snuggly couch and a mug of steamy coffee (or a hot toddy)!
But, as we buckle down for the impending winter, it is important to take a moment and remember how crucial nature is for health and happiness.
Research plainly demonstrates how spending time outdoors offers a range of health benefits, we simply can’t get anywhere else. And when we are happy and clear-minded the quality of our work skyrockets.
Nature and its Benefits
The zen feeling that floods our limbs from crunching leaves beneath our feet, under a canopy of trees, enhances mental health by improving our outlook on life.
Sara Warber, M.D, associate professor of family medicine at The University of Michigan Medical School describes to Ecopsychology, that “walking is an inexpensive, low risk and accessible form of exercise and it turns out that combined with nature and group settings, it may be a very powerful, under-utilized stress buster”.
This sentiment is supported by Japanese scientists at the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine who have recently ramped up research on the practice of “forest bathing.” Using portable electrodes, scientists have uncovered powerful evidence that forest bathing positively affects brain and nervous system activity.
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing or Shinrin Yoku is the practice of leisurely absorbing the forest atmosphere. Developed during the 1980s in Japan, forest bathing has become a popular way to calm the mind and restore health.
Research has confirmed that forest bathing can boost immune function, reduce blood pressure, improve mood, increase energy levels, and accelerate recovery from illness and injury.
No Forest? No Problem!
Depending on where you live, walking through a forest may be impossible. But don’t fret! No need to resign yourself to the stress of everyday life because there are simple solutions that offer similar benefits to forest bathing. Jump start your brain with these 3 solutions.
Create a sanctuary for work.
Transform your workspace into a natural oasis with photos of nature, natural colours, calm lighting and maybe even a small fountain. This will create a calm space so even during the most stressful work day, you can take a few deep breaths and enjoy your sanctuary before jumping back into the grind.
Find any quiet spot.
Visit a park or a museum. Any quiet spot can be equally soothing if you focus on your breathing and walk slowly, enjoying your surroundings. The important thing is to leave all the distractions behind. No cell phones, no emails, no rushing!
Quiet your mind.
Take the time to breath and quiet your mind. Allow yourself to relax. This focused meditation will help you reap many of the health benefits as a long stroll through the forest.
Follow these easy steps to increase happiness, lower stress, and improve productivity. As your mind clears your brilliance will shine through.