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.
Personally solitude is an important part of being able to recharge and every time I do not have the chance to find it over longer periods things are starting to go downhill. Recognising this seems an important consideration not just for business owners themselves, but ensuring that all members of the organisation.
The article refers to a number of key points, but the one’s that resonate most are:
Overall a highly recommended article ! Enjoy during some quiet time !
One of the counter-currents to keep some “tech-free” time to wind down & reflect is the embedding of technology in the human body itself.
Image thanks to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/madlabuk/
The Financial Times has an interesting article on “Invasion of the body hackers” that is well worth the read to understand where this development is going and what is currently already practically possible.