We spend a lot of time indoors. According to researched published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the average person spends 90% of their time inside.
It makes sense.
After leaving home in the morning, you’ll get into a vehicle and head to work. There, you’ll spend a significant portion of the day at your desk. When things get busy, stepping outside for air is either impossible or a treat. In a modern office building, it’s rare for the windows to open.
Then it’s back on the train, back home and over the entire course of the day you’ve only been outside for a few moments.
Even an office with a nice view, or being able to walk to a meeting is no substitute for being consciously out in a natural environment, for example in a field, by the water or in a forest.
Why is it important to get out into nature?
On a physiological level, getting away from an urban environment and into nature is beneficial.
Urban environments overstimulate us. We are constantly bombarded with information, noise and choices. It leaves our brains fatigued.
In nature where the environment is greener and the air is cleaner, the increased amount of oxygen helps to improve our energy levels. It makes us more alert and it sharpens our concentration. Among its other benefits, Vitamin D from the sun helps us to relax us by lowering blood pressure.
A change of environment gives you the physical distance to separate yourself from the activity that has held your focus or the habits you’ve gotten into.
A calming natural environment centres the mind. A study by Professor Richard Fuller examined the relationship between reflection and green space. His research showed a positive correlation: the greener your environment, the better your ability to reflect.
Being in nature offers an environment of simplicity which enables us to pay greater attention to ourselves. In a busy environment it is easy to drown out what our bodies are trying to tell us. You may not realise how tired you really are or that the niggle you felt in your shoulder a few weeks ago but blocked out is now really quite painful.
It allows us to ‘streamline’ our thoughts. Even during important conversations, our minds tend to wander. We don’t give people the focus and attention needed to sustain and grow our relationship with them.
Everything in nature is beautiful. Whether it’s a desert, a forest or a lake. It refreshes our senses and allows us to shake off the distraction of materialism and focus on vital things.
This self awareness improves our ability to connect with others.
What to do
The British weather doesn’t make it easy for us to spend more time in nature. But there is more incentive to get outside now summer is here.
The benefit of being an island is that we are never more than 70 miles from water. There are hundreds of coastal parks to explore and the Woodland Trust has an online tool which allows you to search for your nearest wood.
So take the time to unplug yourself from your electronic devices. Go outside and really observe nature, take a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the calmness of water and soothing quality of greenery.
You’ll find it restorative and clarifying.
Change of scene
If you are looking for the clarity, impetus and direction to embrace change, whatever form it takes and want to be out in calming natural environment, consider iOpener.
iOpener is a transformative development programme for those who seek or face change in their lives.
The four month programme starts with a three day retreat held at Florence House which is situated on the Sussex coast within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Florence House is far removed from the stresses and demands of everyday life, making it the ideal location for individuals to receive support from expert coaches in a nurturing and peaceful environment.
iOpener draws on this insight and provides a space away from it all to reflect and reconnect with what is truly important to you.