I thought this article was fascinating and it helps explain why I walk out on my porch or go sit in my backyard whenever I feel overwhelmed by the work I need to be focusing on. It’s excerpted from The American Society of Landscape Architect’s blog, The Dirt, and is well worth a read.
Nature Works In Mysterious Ways!
Michael Posner, professor emeritus at University of Oregon who studies attention, says that our brains get fatigued after working for long periods of time, “particularly if we have to concentrate intensely or deal with a repetitive task.” Taking a break may or may not help deal with stress during high-pressure times. What’s crucial is the type of break taken: According to The Wall Street Journal, taking a stroll in the park “could do wonders” while drinking lots of coffee will just be further depleting. Also, in other instances, not taking a break at all may be the best course, simply powering through can be “more effective than pausing.”
Let Nature Re-focus The Mind
Recent research shows that taking a stroll through a natural setting can boost performance on “tasks calling for sustained focus.” “Taking in the sights and sounds of nature appears to be especially beneficial for our minds.” In fact, Dr. Marc Berman and fellow researchers at the University of Michigan found that “performance on memory and attention tests improved by 20 percent after study subjects paused for a walk through an arboretum.
Even just looking at photos of nature in a quiet room has a greater cognitive boost than walking down a busy urban street. “In a follow-up study, the researchers had participants take a break for 10 minutes in a quiet room to look at pictures of a nature scene or city street. Although the boost wasn’t as great as when participants actually took the walk among the trees, it was more effective than the city walk, says Dr. Berman. You don’t necessarily have to enjoy the walk to get the benefit … just looking at images of nature engages our so-called involuntary attention, which comes into play when our minds are inadvertently drawn to something interesting that doesn’t require intense focus. We can still talk and think while noticing the element.” In contrast, walking down a busy street is exhausting because we are on the look out for cars and bicyclists, and people bumping into us.
Chill Out With Nature
So if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed or can’t focus on what you know you need to focus on, take a few minutes and walk outside, sit in the garden, walk around the block or just open a book and enjoy looking at some beautiful pictures of nature or go to my website: www.garden-of-eva.com and take a walk through my gardens. The Japanese discovered this a thousand years ago and have been doing it ever sense – sipping tea in their Zen gardens.