Nature’s Notifications: Paying Attention to the Outside World Can Remind Us to Live Healthier Lives

by | May 18, 2022 | Issue 147, Issues, Lifestyle | 0 comments

The average person spends more time in front of a screen than doing anything else, which can negatively affect our physical and mental health. But there's one place where screens...

The average person spends more time in front of a screen than doing anything else, which can negatively affect our physical and mental health. But there’s one place where screens don’t rule: the outdoors. Studies show that spending time in nature is incredibly salutary for us

Going outside and reducing our screen time gives us a ton of benefits. It can help reduce stress, clear our thoughts and fix our circadian rhythms.

Digital Minimalism and Walking Outside

In the book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, there are a lot of interesting thoughts on how to make your life better by spending less time in front of screens.

Newport makes an argument for “Digital Minimalism” the idea that we should spend less time staring at our screens and more time reading books, talking to people and walking outside.

Newport says that, in the past, it was customary for humans to spend a lot of time doing nothing at all, maybe an hour or two every day. We would have what he calls “slow time” when we could sit back and think without distractions.

Walking outside is a great way to get “slow time” and an excellent way to find creative ways to solve our problems. According to Newport, walking outside, along with nature’s ability to fill your senses without demanding your attention, behaves akin to a performance-enhancing drug for deep work.

Looking over the Horizon

Looking over the horizon or broad vistas helps calm the mind and dramatically improve our work life. According to Dr. Andrew Huberman, a Stanford University psychologist and ophthalmologist, looking at the horizon or a broad vista can relax us. This vision mode releases the vigilance and arousal mechanism in our brain stem.

The simple act of looking out the window can also improve your mood and decrease stress levels. The next time you feel anxious or stressed, try getting up from your desk and going to the nearest window.

For better work performance, look over the horizon instead of the computer screen all day long. Any exposure to nature can be helpful in a work environment. A study has shown that exposure to more natural elements is associated with a more productive day at work.

Going Outside First Thing in the Morning

Going outside first thing in the morning is an excellent daybreak ritual. Not only does it help awaken you, but it also helps with regulating your circadian rhythm to help us sleep at night.

Your circadian rhythm is the biological clock that your body has, which dictates when you feel tired and awake. It’s closely tied to your body’s light cycle, so it makes sense that being exposed to more natural light in the morning can help regulate your circadian rhythm. In addition, being outside first thing in the morning can help you get a better handle on your mood for the rest of the day.

A Parting Reminder

Being outside provides us with several benefits. It helps us reduce stress, strengthens our immune system, helps us think more clearly, resets our circadian rhythm and allows us to feel more connected to nature. 

Technology can be a valuable tool in our lives, but if we don’t take time to unplug every now and then, physical and mental health issues might occur. If you want to get the most out of your life, try going outside and appreciating life beyond our screens.

Peter C

Peter C