A Power Solution for Improving Focus, Mood, and Self-Esteem
The simple truth is that we aren’t designed to be glued to a computer screen or in an office all day. Our brains have evolved to thrive in sunlight, in lush green surroundings, and by the water. Since I think we’ve seen the last of snow in Boston (fingers crossed), it’s time to jumpstart our cognitive batteries and kickoff this spring with a plan to leverage our local resources. Have you ever finished up a few hours of yard work and felt absolutely tired, but happy? I had this experience every summer working for my parent’s small landscaping business. I’d be weeding beds, planting bushes, and pouring tons of new mulch into flowerbeds all day long. By the afternoon, with sweat dripping off my brow and deep brown mulch stained into my hands - I’d be exhausted but content.
You don’t have to become a landscaper to tap into this mood and reboot your mental clarity – you just need to get yourself into some green space: a hiking trail, a landscaped city park, or a beautiful fresh water lake.
Here are three things you’ll gain from shutting down your computer and getting out to a local park:
1. Tackle Focus Fatigue
5-Minutes in green space can give your strained focus a reboot by giving your brain a break. Reading endless pages of a dense financial report or textbook drains our “directed” attention, what we use to focus on less than exciting things we need to do for work. A few minutes in green space flips the switch to “involuntary” attention, providing plenty of organically interesting stimulation.
Bottom Line: 300 seconds of walking through Blue Hill Reservation gives you more juice to finish that report you’ve been putting off.
2. Zap Anxious or Depressive Thought Patterns
One study found that 90-minutes in green space has been shown to impact the neural activity linked to rumination. Think: Getting stuck on a nasty thought, thinking about it over and over again, and watching your mood spiral toward deeper frustration or sadness.
Bottom Line: Time in green space (nature) organically supports emotional regulation.
3. Snub Stubborn Self-Esteem
Drawing on a number of studies in the UK, researchers found that a few minutes in a greened park or near water has a significant effect on self-esteem. This has big implications for where we live and work, but also on how we prioritize our time.
Bottom Line: For the biggest bang for your buck, find a natural setting with both lots of trees and water.
So as we see temperatures start to climb into the 60’s, now is a perfect time to discover some amazing nature spots in the Boston-area. I’d start with Lynn Woods or maybe a stroll through Boston Common.
And let time in green space just be the beginning. If you’re really serious about getting out of that funk or improving your performance at work, let’s set up a consultation. We’ll design a concrete plan so that you can turn the page on winter.