Are you bound by four walls? Getting Back To Nature.
When was the last time you spent some time outdoors? Walk in a park, trip to a forest, beach, mountains? When was the last time you recharged your batteries? Oh no, did you say loooong time ago? Don’t feel bad you are not the only one. It’s estimated that an average American is isolated from nature 90 percent of the time. Whoa, that’s a staggering number! Nowadays, people spent most of their time in the office, in the car, at home. We are glued to the computers, smart phones, or TVs watching the latest reality shows. Our brains are being bombarded 24/7 with information coming from every possible direction. How different from where we once were. As human species, over the course of many centuries, we have undergone a major transformation. Agricultural Revolution freed humans from the hunter-gatherer’s dependence on nature, then, Industrial revolution allowed people to move to factories to make a living and now Information Age continues to keep us on the same path – further away from nature.
Did you know that in 1880, two thirds of Americans lived in rural areas and now almost eighty percent lives in urban areas?
Did you also know that outdoors activities are on decline, so is fishing and hunting and per-capita visits to national parks?
Did you know that according to Kaiser Family Foundation, American children, between 8 and 18 spends over seven hours daily plugged into electronic media?
This trend looks pretty grim for us. Soon we’ll be like the characters of the movie “Surrogates”, where humans live in isolation, bound by four walls and interact through surrogate robots. In fact, our shifting preference away from nature to more sedentary activities that involve mainly electronic media is going to get us there sooner than we realize.
Yet, there’s been many studies that have shown many benefits of exposure to the outdoors – sharpened mental acuity, less anger, increased productivity, longer lives. What’s important it’s FREE! Sounds like a good therapy to me. In one of such studies, Marc Berman, Ph.D, research psychologist and his colleagues conducted a test on volunteers. One group walked 2.8 miles in the park and the other one along the city street. People who walked in the park improved their memory and attention by 20 percent, unlike the other group. In another one, scientists from Sweden found that people who were listening to the sounds of tweeting birds and fountain recouped faster from stress than those people who listened to backyard noise or road traffic.
If you find yourself bound by four walls, you can certainly bring the outside in. We do depend on the connection to nature and our present life style is far from it. On one hand we are connected virtually, yet we are totally disconnected on a more personal level. Consider this for a moment: what do you do when your cell phone or iPad is running low on battery? You plug it in, right? So you can continue using your device. In this case, what do YOU do when you’re low on energy and are completely exhausted? Hmmm, let me think: collapse on the couch and watch TV? Well, I have a question for you then. Have you ever felt refreshed or rejuvenated by watching TV, browsing Facebook, or responding to bunch of emails? Most likely not! You probably felt even more exhausted. I understand that present lifestyle does not necessarily allow us to step outside whenever we please. But there are small changes that you can make. Surround yourself with more plants, get more fresh air-even on a fire escape, listen to CD “Sounds of Nature”, go on vacation if you can (but not the kind where you stay in the fancy hotel only). Simply balance your workload with restorative practices. Try to notice what works for you and what brings you back to balance. Unplug from electronic media and head to the woods to listen to the sweet sound of the natural world that you are very much a part of! You might even be surprised to discover solace while listening to the symphony of natural world.