Although we are all too often locked in and riveted to the screens, it is good for our neurons and our minds to reconnect to the outdoors.
In our evolutionary history, we have lived in contact with nature for a long time before moving massively away from it for only a few decades. Which explains why our brain is always programmed to function in this environment, not midway between buildings and horns.
It boosts our morale
Studies in residential areas in cities show that the more green areas there are, the better the mental health of the habitats. A simple square can make all the difference! And even if you do not spend all day there: a recent study published in The neuroscience of nature noted that passage through a green area, even temporarily, directly improves the well-being of the people affected. A good reason to change your usual route to take a detour through the park on the way home.
It stimulates our creativity
Do you lack ideas and inspiration? Nothing like escaping into nature. In a US study conducted on 50 people, after a few days of hiking, cut off from modern technologies, participants saw that their scores in various tests (drawings, puzzles to be solved, open fantasy questions, etc.) were improved by 50%. Brainstorming, starting to write, or picking up a file when you return from an idyllic walk will help you see things with new eyes. Because during these wanderings we let the mind wander, which is very beneficial for the associations of ideas and stimulates the imagination.
It protects us from depression
The Japanese, adherents of the forest bath (shirin-yoku), have studied its therapeutic benefits, especially for the treatment of depression, with results that are better than drugs. They found outan hour’s walk in the woods reduces brooding and dark thoughts massively : the movement of the branches, the colors of the leaves … capture our attention and distract us from our minds.
It calms the nervous system
This is clearly observed: a walk in the woods activates the parasympathetic nervous system which lowers heart rate, blood pressure… And promotes relaxation. This counteracts the overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system, which dominates when we are stressed, scared or angry. The role of the amygdala, a part of the brain that constantly receives sensory stimulation, is (among other things) to allow us to respond to danger. Gold, it has been shown that looking at the sea allows the amygdala to “disconnect” and therefore get out of this permanent state of alarm. The soothing sounds of the waves probably have something to do with it. By lowering the level of cortisol in the blood, contact with nature also soothes inflammation, which can play an important role in the development of disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
It promotes concentration
Australian researchers have shown that just the sight of a natural space improves cognitive performance, especially attention and concentration. People who paused for 40 seconds and looked at green areas performed better in a speed exercise on a computer than those who looked at concrete roofs … Even in the office, it may be enough to look out the window in the distance (if there are trees, for example) to reconnect with nature and focus again!