Came across this article in SlowJapan which is definitely worth the read:
… It was a true savior for Mr. HWANG Daekwon when he figured out how to spend his slowly running time in jail for 13 years, which is to observe plants, herbs and weeds around. It also helped him to restore and maintain his mental and physical health respectively from the deep-rooted anger and injury incurred by severe torture. …
This is an older piece of a great economist thinker (Umair Haque) I came around recently. It’s a year old, but as relevant as ever. If you haven’t read it – do yourself a favor and head to the link below and read the article.
And if you’re a user of Twitter – follow @umairh. Often good for a provocative statement or two. But always good to make you stop and think.
So much human potential squandered for such a significant chunk of time in a life; so much time spent grinding one’s wheels can, it’s true, exhaust one’s fuel for living; can come to leave one feeling stuck in the existential desert. So what happens now? More of the same — a perma-crisis whose human toll on you and I seems to be a kind of crisis-malaise, a habituation to human heartache, the dulling of the once-razor-sharp edge of what could have been? Is that it — all there is, for us, this “lost” generation?
Adventure is all around us, at all times. Even during hard financial times such as these. Times when getting out into the wild is more enjoyable, invigorating and important than ever.
This could have been a very clever marketing campaign by manufacturers of camping gear, but I really like it. And even if it would be – let’s face it – there is much more direct health benefits than for example the Valentines Day scam perpetuated by flower shops & chocolate manufacturers (not to be confused with the giving of genuine gifts at random times).
Instead it is an idea by Alastair Humphreys – http://www.microadventures.org who is trying to challenge the assumption that adventures are expensive, require long-term planning and need extreme levels of fitness. He has coined the term ‘micro-adventures‘ for short, local discovery tours.
“You do not need to fly to the other side of the planet to find wilderness and beauty.”
“Adventure is stretching yourself; mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing something you do not normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability.”
You do not need to be an trained elite athlete or lots of spare cash to have an adventure. A microadventure is an adventure that is cheap, simple, short (CSS). It has the spirit of a big adventure condensed into a midweek escape from the office, or even a weekend away. Most people even those living in big cities are not far away from (at least) smaller of wilderness areas.
Stress Response – what was a life-saver initially, making us run from predators and enabling us to take down prey. Today we can’t seem to turn off the same life-saving physical reaction to cope with intense, ongoing stress.
Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University, reveals just how dangerous prolonged exposure to stress can be.
The theory that nature can recharge minds depleted by harsh urban environments is not new, but only recently has the theory been scientifically tested. Thanks to portable EEG’ measuring brain activity unobtrusively, researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh were able to measure the brain patterns of 12 volunteers as they walked through three different sections of Edinburgh over the course of an hour and a half.
The findings confirmed previous ideas on how the surrounding physical environment affects the brain’s attentiveness.
“When the volunteers made their way through the urbanized, busy areas…their brain wave patterns consistently showed that they were more aroused, attentive and frustrated than when they walked through the parkland, where brain-wave readings became more meditative. While traveling through the park, the walkers were mentally quieter.”
Natural environments still engage the brain, say researchers, holding our attention while simultaneously allowing for reflection.
The term “Nature Deficit Disorder ( / Syndrome)” has rung a bell for me ever since I first heard it. Whilst it is most often used by parents to describe their fears for the next generation I see this also as being very applicable to adults in our city based working lives seemingly chained to office desks.
Copyright 2008 Gary Varvel – http://garyvarvel.com/
There has been plenty of anecdotal as well as scientific evidence (see some resource links below) that an ongoing deficit of exposure to nature can have detrimental effects also on adults physical and mental health.