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74% of us have felt stressed or overwhelmed in the last year. The WHO describes stress as the “Health epidemic” of the 21st century. All that stress negatively affects your performance, but what’s the antidote? The healing power of nature is well documented (that’s why we’re mindful rewilders). We explore the surprising role of mindfulness in nature, stress and performance.

Nature Heals

Whether you’re forest bathing, sitting on a park bench, for example, or gazing up at the moon in the night sky, nature is healing. If you live in a city and can’t get away, time in nature is still accessible. Researchers from the University of Melbourne found being in green space or just looking at a digital image of nature will bring stress reducing benefits (here’s one of the beautiful Lake District for your next break). The study demonstrated that even a short 40 second break improved attention and performance, but why?

Mindfulness in the Lake District courtesy of the talented Danny Lau Sy
Mindfulness in the Lake District courtesy of the talented Danny Lau Sy

Attention Restoration Theory & Productivity

We spend less and less time in nature. UK workers experience fewer than 15 minutes in nature. Recommendations suggest double this amount as a minimum for how long we should be spending outdoors. If you work in a competitive, fast paced environment, you might consider that a trip to slackerville, but think again. Let’s look at the data. Attention Restoration Theory (ART) developed by  Rachel and Stephen Kaplan  takes a different perspective. ART demonstrates that spending time in nature, makes us more productive, helping us to focus more effectively.

Slacking off & Nature

That’s right, slackers of the world unite. ART suggests that attention may be “restored” by switching to an alternative task that uses different parts of the brain. Creating regular breaks and spending time in natural environments and wilderness has many psychological benefits including attention restoration.

Mindfulness in Nature & Performance Hacks

Firstly, you now have permission to take a break in nature (it’s all about the science, remember?) but you’re still busy. So, how can you incorporate mindfulness in nature into your day? Think of it as mini mindful rewilding.

  • Park a couple of blocks away from work and walk the rest. Likewise, if you use public transport, hop off a stop early.
  • Set an alert to take regular, nature breaks during the day (yes, they can be digital)
  • Working from home? Take your work out into green space.
  • Opt for ‘walking meetings’. Head into nature to meet with colleagues or clients.
  • Get outside for fresh air and a slice of nature at lunchtime.
  • Instead of the gym, go for a run, walk, hike or outdoor qigong instead.
  • Get together with friends or colleagues for lunch. You’ll build connections at the same time as practicing mindfulness in nature.

Discover more about being more mindful in nature on our mindfulness in nature courses or get in touch to see how we can work together

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