There is a beautiful reward in nature, waiting to leave you refreshed, inspired, and entertained in a healthy and limitless way. Here’s how it works!
Screen Filled Society
It is no mystery that the sedentary, screen-filled lifestyle is becoming the norm in today’s modern society. What we don’t recognize is how often we are allowing digitized distractions rob us from the benefits of outdoor activities. Though the television, computer, cell phone, and tablet screens offer a momentary relief from stress, or entertainment these (not-so-active) activities are stealing much of our precious time.
Not So Hard-Earned Rewards
There is nothing wrong with technology, and seeing as it can be a useful tool with which millions (myself included) can use to improve life and make a living. However, there must be a life outside of technology.
Although I work many hours daily on a laptop, I also unwind by watching television, and connect with friends over social media. I believe it is important to grant yourself the freedom to have relaxing, rest filled days in whatever form that means to you. On the other hand, it is vital that we as a society reconsider the range of options out there that can relax, entertain, and connect us.
Many of the rewards we offer ourselves are fleeting “fixes” that try to mimic natural endorphin and serotonin release. Getting outside, and into nature, provides an organic boost to your overall well-being. Stress relief, blood circulation, positive stimuli, and much more can be found right outside your door.
Rest for the Weary
When our brains are exhausted from highly stimulating activities and environments, we are not capable of thinking or focusing clearly. The stress of everyday life, including work, school, and family, can really pile up. On top of it all are extraneous yet subtle stressors like city noises, television input, artificial lights, and time staring at a screens.
Hard Stresses and Soft Refreshes
Such stresses are considered to be cognitive strains and are labeled by Kaplan and Kaplan as “hard fascinations.” These hard fascinations can contribute to depression, anxiety, and attention deficits which are prevalent in our modern society.
Here is where nature can work its restorative magic through what is labeled as “soft fascinations.” Soft fascinations from nature provide a bounty of benefits to metal health including stress release, cognitive rejuvenation, and a sense of escape. Currently, there are a growing number of studies displaying the positive results nature has on the mind. From more productive employees, to healthier hospital patients, the addition of nature into our modern society is positively affecting people in significant ways.
Double Your Blessings
I am often reminded of the well-known Stanford Marshmallow Experiment when deciding to put forth the effort of stepping outside and communing with nature. For those who are not familiar with this study, here is what happened.
A Lasting Impact
Pre-schoolers were given an option; they could receive a marshmallow that minute, or they could choose to delay gratification by waiting a short period of time and would, as a result, receive two marshmallows. Further results from this study went on to show that those children who waited were measurably more successful in life. (More recent publications unveiled the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment to be more of a reflection of the child’s social and economic background rather than delayed gratification, but I digress from my point.)
Choosing to put your favorite TV show, social media app, or other temporary stress relief habit on hold to step into nature, can lead to greater and lasting rewards.
A Better Fix
When the screen’s blue glow summons me,like a moth to a lamp, I remember the great value in stepping outside and into the benefits of nature. Sometimes it is as simple as putting off the momentary reward and challenging yourself to be refreshed, inspired, and entertained in a different way. With a beautiful and wild world waiting outside your door, this new challenge can start with a single step outside.
What is your favorite outdoor activity? Do you have a story about a time nature refreshed you? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.