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.
This information was published in the New York Times recently: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/27/easing-brain-fatigue-with-a-walk-in-the-park/
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.
Global Lecture Series: Are Our Cities Making Us Sick? from UQ Journalism & Communication.
Some further reading resources:
I came across this article recently: The business case for solitude
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:
- Hear yourself
- Get clarity
- Renew purpose
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.