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Expert GuidanceTaking Nature Breaks

Taking Nature Breaks

From The Wake Up: Take a moment from spending so much time indoors and reconnect with the natural world all around you.

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There are so many ways we can benefit from reconnecting with the natural world. (calm music) I'm Dr. Nicole Ardoin, a professor at Stanford University and the Director of the Social Ecology Lab. My lab researches the world nature has in our lives. We study urban and suburban environments, as well as nature-based tourism settings, like national parks. Today, we'll be talking about how we can all benefit from finding time to take regular nature breaks throughout the day. Today, many of us are spending large amounts of time indoors. Meaning, we spend most of our days surrounded by human-made objects and construction. At the same time, we're facing rapidly increasing levels of stress and anxiety worldwide. But one relatively simple brain break we could all take right now is looking outside our window and spending a few minutes a day connecting with the nature rich world. In 2015, a team of researchers aggregated empirical work by scientists from around the world. And they found that taking time to connect with nature can have positive effects on our cognitive, emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing. That study also emphasized that taking time to connect with nature can reduce our levels of stress and anxiety, as well as help improve our cognitive function, attention span and overall health and mental wellbeing. When it comes to connecting or reconnecting with nature, there's a myth that we have to go out there, to a giant park or some far away place where we can be all alone to really experience it. This thinking makes it hard to see nature in our everyday lives. It can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Like, "Well, there's nothing to care about around here." But that's actually not true. Even if you live in a big city or a suburb, there's always going to be something around you that can stimulate your biophilic connections, might be a nearby forest or a pocket park, yes. But it could also be your front yard, your back deck, a view of the sky, a pet, or even a houseplant. It can be observing the way that nature in its resilience and persistence has taken over a vacant lot, or a small scrappy weed that's living brightly in a sidewalk crack. And it's been proven repeatedly that you don't even need to go outside to reap nature's benefits. Numerous studies in public health, environmental studies and psychology have shown that just looking at paintings of natural environments can have positive effects in terms of mood, connection and motivation. The field of biophilic design stresses the importance of including natural elements or those that mimic nature-like shapes, colors, materials and lighting, in the design or architecture of your office or even your home. For example, a series of studies by environmental psychologist Roger Ulrich and his colleagues have transformed hospital design. Many health facilities now include more windows that face natural views, because it's been shown that simply having a view of...


TypeExpert Guidance
Duration4 min

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