A ten-year old boy was recently ask if he preferred to be inside or outside. He preferred inside because that is where you find electrical outlets. This is exactly what he said! Adults and children, alike, are on electronic devices 7.5 hours of the day (probably longer, I'm referring to an older study) and spending fewer than 5 hours a week outside. Today’s children spend less than half of the amount of time outside than their parents did when they were children.
Countless studies (okay, they can be counted — over 100) demonstrate being in nature, living near nature, or even viewing nature paintings or videos have a positive impact on our brains, bodies, emotions, thought processes and social interactions. I’m guessing those are all areas you would not be opposed to improving. According to these studies, being in nature or even viewing it releases a cascade of positive emotions producing a calming effect on our nervous systems. The calmer nervous system cultivated greater openness, creativity, connection, generosity and resilience. Who thinks there should be a law that we all spend multiple hours outside every day? Amen?
There was a study in a poorer Chicago neighborhood situated next to a green space — lawns, parks, trees. This study realized a reduction in ADHD symptoms, a greater calm in the neighborhood, as well as a stronger sense of connection to neighbors, more creativity, and less violence. Because of nature! Another study discovered that one minute of looking at a gorgeous stand of eucalyptus trees left participants feeling less entitled and self-important. A little less entitlement and self-importance could go a long way in our world today! Another study showed that five minutes of viewing Planet Earth led people to report a greater sense of being part of something bigger which caused them to feel their concerns were not as huge as they had originally thought. Because of nature!
What do you think? Should we go outside today? Who knew nature could be the answer to everything that ails us and our society. Picnic. Walk to the office. Go fishing. Ride your bike through the park. Spend the weekend at the lake. Sit in the back yard after dark. Walk through the grass barefoot. Do it all in order to connect deeply with your soul and with something bigger than yourself. And that puts everything in perspective.
Here’s to a calmer, more positive, fully connected, creative you!