With a project deadline looming and mental fatigue setting in, you may be tempted to take a break. You may want to get some fresh air before tackling the last few tasks to bring the project to a close. And rightly so, a fresh air break, especially if taken outdoors, has been shown to improve mood, lower blood pressure, and increase feelings of calmness and relaxation.
A break that includes time spent looking at or listening to nature will help you focus your mind and refresh your thought processes.
How Nature Affects Our Minds
There are many reasons why nature tends to rejuvenate our minds. One reason is the direct exposure to sunlight, which produces vitamin D in the body. And vitamin D, which relaxes our blood vessels, increases blood flow to the brain. When blood flow increases, so does the amount of oxygen being carried to the brain. And this increase in oxygen is correlated to an increase in serotonin levels. Serotonin is known as the feel good hormone that regulates mood and anxiety. Therefore, getting outside often leads to feelings of happiness and well-being.
Another consideration for why nature scenes encourage mental fortitude is that in nature, we are surrounded by short-wavelength, calming colors like green and brown. Also, we associate nature with relaxing activities like a walk in the woods or a day at the beach. In nature, we breathe deeper and are more relaxed and deliberate about what we think and do. This is because, when we do spend time outside relaxing, it is often to do something fun or take a break from routine activities. This shift in thinking and doing make our minds stronger.
Any outdoor recreation can give you a mental boost, so here are a few suggestions for how to spend more time in nature:
Take a Walk in the Park
If you only have a few minutes to spare, go for a walk in a nearby park. There are usually walking paths in urban and suburban parks for you to take advantage of. A short loop from the car, around the park and back to the car will boost your endorphins, which are mood-enhancing chemicals produced by the brain.
Photograph Nature Scenes
Need a break from your indoor routine? Head outdoors with your camera and spend a few minutes photographing the neighborhood’s wildflowers and trees. The time spent will relax your mind and leave you with photographic memories to share with family and friends.
Spend Time in the Garden
It has been shown that mycobacterium vaccae, a naturally occurring bacteria in the soil, has mood-elevating properties. So, a little time spent in the garden, digging in the soil, is a great way to reduce stress and improve cognitive function in the brain.
If you find yourself with a few minutes, hours or days to spend away from the office or outside of your home, consider spending that time in nature. Take advantage of its relaxation and mind-strengthening benefits.