The Hipsbear is a lifestyle blog and comes up with topics about how to get in touch with the opposite other, make money or do sports. Today I want to provide a more serious topic, as it becomes important to me the last months. If you work hard, party hard and play hard, you have to give your mind a break.
There is nothing better for relaxation than taking a walk in nature. Not only it soothes the mind but also improves the brain processes, which is very important for us because we live in crowded cities, often deprived of spacious green spaces.
There is an avalanche of scientific evidence that supports many positive effects of visiting green spaces. Our mother nature apparently has amazing rejuvenating abilities that we people often disregard or cannot really appreciate. For example, it was proved that short breaks like walks in nature can really rejuvenate the brain and improve cognitive functioning. I am proud to say that I am one of those people who appreciate and use the power of nature for my own well-being, so let’s make sure you join the club.
For many people, it is unclear how a visit to a green space such as forest or a park can improve brain functioning. Does nature experience actually change our brain and emotional health? Let me walk you through.
Science has the answers
I will explain all the evidence that the science has provided so far. Before I got all scientific, I want to say that I was really impressed with the findings myself because I never thought nature could have such a strong effect even though I regularly spend time in green spaces. Well, I’m not moving closer to a park (for now) but I wouldn’t say no to the opportunity to take advantage of the positive effects of nature on mental health.
One of the recent prominent studies that illustrate the impact of nature on brain used a group of participants and compared their neural activity. The participants were divided into two groups; the first one spent 90 minutes in nature while the second one spent this time in usual urban settings. The results were astonishing.
The participants who spent quality time in nature showed much less neural activity in the brain areas generally associated with mental illnesses. Moreover, they demonstrated better solving times when given different math problems. On the other hand, the participants who were asked to walk in urban settings showed higher levels of neural activity, which supported the claims of healthcare organizations about rising levels of mental illness in the urbanized world.
According to this great article on LSE Cities, an international research center that studies urbanization, social stress is the most important factor for the increased risk of mental illness in urban areas. It causes many people to experience anxiety and disturbance of chronobiological rhythms. That’s a bad combination because it can literally make you go crazy!
In addition to social stress, let’s not forget all that noise and pollution. Have many time have you dreamt about leaving the city for a few days to get your share of silence and create an inner calm? Exactly. I know I dreamed about it so many times until the point when my desire to find some inner calm persuaded me to spend weekends outside the city. Believe me, the difference between the experiences is so great! Those guys who have estate outside the urban areas will totally understand me.
Let’s get back to science
Another study that I wanted to discuss with you was done by psychologists named David Strayer and Ruth Atchley. They also aimed to determine the impact of nature immersion on cognition but focused on creativity and ability to solve complex problems. The participants in this study were tasked with spending 4 days in nature without access to any technology (I bet they did not use people who couldn’t survive without their iPhones, otherwise the study would have failed).
The results were as impressive as in the study reviewed by me above. The disconnection with the technology improved the performance on a creativity and complex problem-solving task by a full 50 percent in the group who hiked in nature! Clearly, they possessed a significant cognitive advantage over the control group because the natural setting was emotionally positive and low-arousing. It does not require the same attention and focus as the technology does and helps to relax and enjoy the experience. Now, that’s what I call a relaxation of the mind!
If you need a lot of creative power in your work, you should think green as well! A study found that green color can help you to get your creative juices going. It assessed whether this particular color facilitated creativity and found that even a brief glimpse contributed to a better creative performance. The researchers actually used an awesome exercise to achieve their goal: they asked the participants to come up with uses for a tin can. Almost all participants who saw green before engaging in the exercise produced more imaginative and interesting solutions compared to those who were not exposed to the color.
What this means for you
Clearly, visits to nature are awesome and can make the day exciting and positive. As you now know, nature has much more effects on the brain as you previously thought and this means great things for you! First, it can improve the mood and keep you happy and positive for the entire day. Second, regular walks in nature can actually reduce your risk of developing a mental disease caused by a comprehensive effect of stressors encountered in urban settings. Third, it can spark your creativity and help you to come up with more imaginative solutions. Fourth, nature experience can help you to improve problem solving skills.
Ready to head outdoors?
Let me recommend you my method of taking advantage of positive effects of nature even if you live in the city. The most convenient form clearly is a walk in the park but you can take it one level further and go hiking! It is also extremely affordable and suitable for everyone, so you can take your girlfriend or a friend with you as well. In terms of equipment, you need just a pair of good running shoes, a bottle of water, and suitable clothing.
Even if you have the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time outside of the city and enjoy nature, visiting the park for walking or hiking will only benefit your well-being and health. Do not hesitate and begin to improve your health today!
What do you think? How do handle the massive overload of work and sports?