What Nature Can Do For Your Brain
I wasn't born a city girl, but I've spent a lot of time in cities all across the United States and Europe...working, yes....but also seeing the sights, taking in museums, and enjoying sporting events, etc.
Still, to me the ultimate destination usually involves nature.
While the city has so much to offer and some are among my favorite places to visit, I feel a much deeper connection to the natural world.
Turns out, that connection appears to be hard-wired into the human brain. In the current issue of Tennis Magazine, University of Chicago psychology professor Sian Beilock explains how spending some time with nature can actually boost our brainpower. Beilock writes:
Philosophers, writers and laypeople alike have long suspected that interacting with nature can have a positive effect on our ability to operate at our best. Recently, scientists have confirmed these ideas. Taking a three-mile walk through a tree-lined arboretum enhances people's concentration skills as compared to walking for the same amount of time in a downtown urban environment.
To make a long story short, Beilock says that nature engages our brains in an involuntary way. Taking a break from directed concentration by spending time in the natural world gives the brain a rest...rejuvenating it in the process.
I'd make the case that spending time in nature is rejuvenative in other ways, too. Nature has the power to relax and restore. It can spark creativity. It's a great place to think. (Nature isn't going to be able to work her magic on you if you've got your SmartPhone glued to your hand, though.)
Get away from the hustle and bustle, put the phone away and give it a try. Take a break and spend some time outdoors.
If you live in a city, visit a botanical garden or find a park. If you have more time and are lucky enough to live in proximity...treat yourself to a hike in a national forest or park. It's good for the soul.
And now you know that when you return to your desk or whatever task awaits you, your powers of concentration will be sharper than they were before you stepped away.
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