October 12, 2022

Need to focus? Nature has the answer!

- Randy Pierce

a peaceful wooded forest

Are you reading this on your smart phone? Immersed in a real or virtual office on a computer and taking a distraction from the many other demands on your attention? Most of us work to focus on an array of tasks and divert into things for a reprieve, a distraction and ideally some form of recharge.

Last year, I was introduced to the neuroscientist, Rachel Hopman. Her work highlights the limited focus/attention we all experience within our structured cognitive world and, more importantly, the measured ability for time in green space to literally restore internal resource. That’s right, time in nature is an excellent means to enhance our ability to focus and eliminate distractions, allowing us a more efficient approach to our work. If this time in nature is interrupted or intertwined with connections to our structured world such as through a smart phone, the benefits diminish significantly. We simply need to unplug to truly benefit fully from this brief restorative experience.

I explored further and found Ernie Shramayr provided an excellent article clearly outlining how much time we need, how often, and which types of spaces would best benefit us. The more wild the space, the better we are served though simply getting to a park begins the benefit over a walk in an urban street. It is the blend of sight, sound and scent in these environments which stimulate our mind through a variety of ways.

Simply three excursions per week for 20 minutes each time is sufficient to keep our brains operating at high focus efficiency. The evidence suggests the benefits increase with more time and more natural settings, but having this baseline goal is an easy actionable step for anyone looking for the best form of recharge. I’d like to think this blog takes a close second this week!

Be well,