Nature smart - Part 2

Sometimes a quick walk in a natural setting can help in complete those difficult tasks.

I have been doing some research lately on the effects of nature on our ability to learn and concentrate, our creativity, our emotional health, and our spirit. I decided to create my own experiment associated with this research. You may recall that in part one of this series by Michigan State University Extension, Richard Louv is known for writing about his insights to what he calls Nature-Deficit disorder.

I intentionally set aside today as the day devoted to writing. I was up early on this brisk day, getting ready to sit at the computer – needless to say I am having what some would call writers block.  Why can I not just write a few short paragraphs about this topic?  I have done the research, read the books, applied the principals in a recent class I taught, and had students write reports and reflect on their own learning experiences about getting out in nature. So why is there nothing written on the screen?

Well maybe my self-diagnosed attention deficit disorder symptoms are setting in today. So I did a few other work tasks, made some phone calls, set up a meeting, returned more emails and still no inspiration to write about the wonderful effects of nature and creativity, increased learning ability, and better focus.

I stepped away from my desk top, thinking about the principles taught in The Nature Principle and the first book by Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods. The more we are connected to technology the more nature we need, so I took my laptop and moved to a window to watch the birds at their feeder and typed away.

Still nothing coherent was on the screen. I enjoyed the bids hopping and bopping about, but still I could not get my thoughts together. Well it could be that it is a gray wintery day, or that the wind is howling and the forecast says a winter storm is brewing.  Have you ever found yourself in this situation? What should I do now? 

So I headed off to the library to order some books for yet another project I have started, remember the self-diagnosis? 

While I was out I thought to myself, I have been reading, studying, teaching and preaching about the positive effects of nature. Taking my own advice, even in the gray windy weather I started to walk.  Yes, it was cold and the river was not exactly the green/blue therapy that some psychiatrists have prescribed to patients, but the research states even five minutes of nature can have a positive effect on creativity, and 25 chilly minutes later I agreed. 

Here is what I experienced in 25 short minutes: I was thinking clearer, I felt refreshed and I thought about how I would write this article in a creative way. I thought how I could explain my own struggles, of sitting a computer monitor and how sometimes a quick nature break can be the best thing to do for productivity. Now I will admit, perhaps this could have all happened without going into nature, but I had been at the computer for about five hours and nothing was on the screen.  A few minutes after returning from my cold brisk walk I had a good start. So I think I will keep this little experiment going and make sure I am “in nature” every day. 

Over the next several weeks I am going to write more about being nature smart.  Stay tuned for more about my “little experiment.” I will also highlight the research being done around the globe around this topic of Nature Deficit Disorder.  I hope I have encouraged you to get a little “nature” today.

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