We tend to forget sometimes how lucky we are in this country. Well, it turns out that one thing we have in abundance can actually make us happier and healthier. And it’s most likely right outside your door.
The good news doesn’t stop there because the change you need to make in your life is both enjoyable and fairly easy to accomplish.
It is……………………….(drum roll please)……………………
Yep, that’s it!
Being out and among nature has been a suggestion in our OPSEC workshops, for quite some time now, as a means to decompress from high stress moments in the workplace but now you don’t just have to take our word for it. There are many studies done on this very subject with a total of 290 million people being questioned. One recent study from the University of Exeter in England found that people who spend at least two hours a week in nature were much more likely to report that they had good health and better psychological well-being than those who didn’t. You can read it for yourself here.
Otherwise here are the key takeaways from the study which focused on the experiences of almost 20,000 people:
1. Two hours is the magic time limit. People who spent some lesser amount of time in nature — less than two hours a week — reported no correlative benefit whatsoever.
2. Most of the study participants said that their nature exposure was close to where they lived which is where living in New Zealand makes achieving this two hour time frame much easier than a lot of other countries.
3. There’s no restriction on the setting or the activity. You can sit in a park and read a book, walk along a beach, or walk the dog on a local bush walk.
4. Two hours seems to be the optimal time. More outdoor time was good, but the added benefit continued only up to five or six hours per week. Once study participants went over that time amount, they no longer reported any additional increase in health or well-being. Which might explain why farmers don’t seem to be to exactly the happiest people on the planet given all their time outside, they’ve hit their happiness quota.
5. What is really important for all of us in our busy lives is that it doesn’t matter how the time is split up: two hours in a single day, or 120 minutes over seven days (which is six x 17-minute per day plus one 18-minute outing) or three lots of 40 minutes, it’s up to you, and probably the weather.
The Japanese have a great name for it Shinrin yoku – Forest Bathing. So now, 17 minutes a day of forest bathing, or going to the park enjoying listening to the Tuis or a podcast as you walk along a beach, is a scientifically proven way to make a happier and healthier you.
Use that 17 minutes today.