Friday, September 2, 2011

Unwinding Works Best in the Park

A friend told me a story a few days ago about being in Seattle with her husband after a difficult doctor's appointment. They had hoped for good news, a fun time after enjoying the opportunities of the big city. She was bummed, although not desparately depressed or gloomy but she wasn't upbeat. Her husband made a bunch of suggestions of activities: a movie, the museum, shopping, sightseeing, the Pike Street Market, but nothing was appealing to think of, or even to do, briefly, As they walked toward the water front, she saw the Aquarium and on a whim said, "I haven't been there in a decade. Let's go." Her husband agreed and they went in, emerging an hour or so later, with my friend feeling 100% improved, but not sure why.

The same day, I was in Seattle and by chance picked up an article in the WSJ about the benefits of "nature" for stress reduction.  I've written before on intelligentwomenonly.com (May 24, 2011) about the fact that women gain relaxation from exposure to the outdoors: water, wind, sun, trees, rain, flowers and bushes, mountains and meadows. The current article focuses, without gender differenitation, on "optimal mental refreshment" which addresses the relief of brain fatigue from intense concentration  or a repetitive task. "Taking in the sights and sounds of nature appears to be especially beneficial for our minds." Even pictures of natural scenes in our offices work to help decrease mental fatigue, but not as much as actual exposure.

A real coffee break doesn't do the same. No surprise. Here's the link:

It works for me — even 5 minutes looking up at the trees and sky if that's all I can manage.
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