Next time you’re at work and feeling distracted, take a break to look at a tree! Research suggests that even short periods of exposure to natural spaces can help reset the mind and improve focus.
In January of 2016, National Geographic posted an article called, “This Is Your Brain on Nature” which describes nature’s rejuvenating effects on the human brain. The article explains how even in small doses, nature helps to lower the brain’s stress hormones, lower heart rates, and decrease sweat levels. Living within a short distance of green space is associated with positive health benefits, such as reduced rates of diabetes, anxiety and depression.
In her article on the website HealthLine.com, Stephanie Watson details how some scientists are examining Green Space Therapy (exposure to outdoor green spaces) as an alternative treatment for children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
How does it work? Green Space Therapy combats “attention fatigue”– the theory that focussed attention requires mental exertion to block out stimuli and to restrain competing impulses. Sustained attention can lead to mental exhaustion. But exposure to green spaces can help to rejuvenate a tired mind, allowing the mind to refocus and allowing children with ADHD to reengage with their school work.
A brief 20 minute walk outside in green space was shown to improve test performance for children with ADHD. The effect isn’t limited to exercising outside though, even sedentary time outside in green space improved performance for students. Interestingly, studies have also shown that simply working near a window overlooking green spaces can have positive effects. Now you have another reason to push for a better office view!
Exposure to trees and natural spaces can soothe your tired mind and reduce the physical signs of stress. So, the next time you need to sharpen your focus, consider taking a short walk in a park, or sitting quietly under a tree. Enjoy your Green Space Therapy; it’s the cheapest type of therapy you’re likely to find!
Watson, S. (2016). The most natural treatment of all: Green spaces and ADHD. HealthLine. URL: http://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/green-space-therapy#2
Williams, F. (2016, January). This is your brain on nature. National Geographic Magazine. URL: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/call-to-wild-text