As a classic introvert, it used to be that I would spend almost every weekend with my friends. Now, as I got older, the ideal weekend is one where I can just relax and enjoy myself. I'm not gonna lie, I don't feel happy or depressed anywhere. I just hate going places.
As I write this, I’m plugged into a computer with headphones that are like an umbilical cord. I’m in a left-brain verbal-mathematical state of mind. I’m floating in mid-air, using my brain as a floating object. I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing here, or what I’m doing right now.
In this article, I am referring to a book by Alan Logan, a renowned naturopath and author of Your Brain On Nature. In this, He talks about how the environment can affect our health and how it can be changed. According to him, Getting outside is good for our bodies and minds and it can help us feel good about ourselves and the world around us. Even if you have a television screen with a nature scene, it won’t provide the same effect as viewing the real outdoors, says Paul.
In an experiment, people with a standard windowless office were asked to perform mentally challenging tasks while looking at three different objects. The TV screen was designed to look like a window, allowing viewers to see a glass pane while wearing curtains. When people looked at the screen, they were calmer and more focused. The study found that young people are prone to becoming anthropomorphic, or unnatural, when they stare at screens instead of playing outside.
“Ironically,” says Dr. Logan, “it’s science that’s leading the charge on behalf of nature.”
We live in ancient bodies.
We’re 21st century people who are living in ancient bodies. In the book, Dr.Logan talks about the journey of the genus Homo, which has been around 2 million years. During this time, our species learned how to sustain itself in the natural world. We tend to be drawn to certain regions and niches that support human health. For us, the reward was survival.
Fear and loathing
The wiring runs deep in the brain. It involves the insula and the anterior cingulate, which are regions that play a role in developing and maintaining emotional stability. Modern cities can also trigger the primal fear circuits.
Dr. Logan says that the images were processed to create a pleasant and soothing environment. Our evolution taught us that nature can kill and maim, and that it can also bite and sting us. Even infants can still feel scared of crawling creatures.
Knowledge society challenge
For years, Dr. Logan has been following the research related to the link between stress and intelligence. He presented his findings in his book, The Brain Diet. We rely on our bodies to keep us on high alert. Unfortunately, we live in a world full of distractions.
Doing multiple tasks takes a toll on the brain. It makes us feel like we’re drowning in a sea of information. The effects of cognitive fatigue are severe and can lead to a reduction in cognitive function. In other words, it’s hard to find the willpower to keep up with a healthy lifestyle.
You know that feeling of being constantly restricted by the world around you, which constantly prevents you from reaching for that oh-so-important urge to eat more? It makes sense that trying to do something while also suppressing natural responses is akin to trying to drive with one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator.
Despite being anti-tech, he still believes that technology is still very much a part of society. He goes on to say that stress is a contributing factor to the rise of comfort food.
A term that translates to “bathing in the forest air” is Shirin-yoku, which means “taking in the forest air.” It can help lower stress levels and improve a variety of health conditions.
Shirin-yoku, which is Japanese for stress reduction, can help people feel better, according to a study. Japan's scientists are leading the way in developing new materials and methods for making buildings that seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor spaces.
Researchers at McGill University compared the mental health of people who walked through tunnels during winter to those who avoided the freezing conditions by walking through green spaces. While the underground runners were spared the harsh weather, those who walked outside felt better equipped for the outdoors. The studies suggest that people tend to feel better in nature.
Exercise on nature
Getting into the mood to exercise is hard when it comes to times when we’re not feeling great. The biggest obstacle to achieving a healthy and happy lifestyle is motivation. It can be a negative aspect of any exercise, and it can make it hard to motivate people.
According to exercise expert Paul Graham, green exercise is a type of exercise that elevates a person’s mood and maintains motivation. Aside from improving physical performance, it can also help lower stress levels. A study found that running in the woods was as effective as running on a standard track. The runners in the woods felt more like themselves. They didn't have the usual concerns about running pain and fatigue. They finished faster than the runners in the open track.
The participants in the study said they felt like they were outside of themselves. The faster they ran, the less they felt like they were being chased by a group of people.
How to go au naturel
According to Dr. Logan, taking a few minutes to step out of your usual routine for a few minutes can improve your mental health and creativity. Being in nature allows us to break from our inhibitions. It can also help us recharge and regain our cognitive equilibrium.
Putting your brain on a nature diet can help improve your overall well-being and nutrition. It's a simple and effective way to get started.
Being present is good for you. It can help you avoid rumination about the past and prevent anxiety.
Being aware of what is happening around you is the key to staying focused on what is happening now.
Whether it's a rural setting or a city, finding the right environment for yourself is important. Most of the better cities have green spaces in them.
Green spaces are an important part of our communities and should be taken seriously. As cities grow, we need to preserve and protect them.
Take your kids outside and explore the world around you. Doing so will teach them the importance of nature and its benefits.
Instead of pushing yourself to the virtual world, get outside and do something physical.
Be brave and don’t wait for the “perfect” moment. When it comes to weather, remember that it’s just a door or two away.
Whatever you can do, do it. It can be a simple 5-minute walk, a bike ride, a swim in the lake, a winter cross-country ski trip, or sitting under a tree.
Kahn, Peter, et al. The human relation with nature and technological nature. Current Directions in Psychological Science 18 no.1 (February 2009): 37-42.
Shin WS,, et al. Forest experience and psychological health benefits: the state of the art and future prospect in Korea. Environ Health Prev Med. 2010 Jan;15(1):38-47. Epub 2009 Oct 21.
Tsunetsugu, Yuko, et al. Trends in research related to “Shinrin-yoku” (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing) in Japan. Environ Health Prev Med. 2010 January; 15(1): 27–37.