What are the signs of nature deficit disorder?
Peace in the universe…until
Ding! Beep! Ding!
It’s 6:30am as I lay in bed. Ding. Beep. Ding. I just ignore them. I roll over for a few more minutes snooze and ding, beep, there it goes again! Beep. Ding. Ding. Beep. Ding. C’mon! Three texts, five emails and two updates and it’s not even 7:00 am yet! As I reluctantly get up, Ding, Beep, Ding, Ding! I feel the heat well up in my face. I hate when my day starts out like this! I’m feeling overwhelmed and it’s way too early in my day for this. Ding. Beep. Seriously! I haven’t even had my coffee yet! Ding. Ding.
Sound unfortunately familiar?
In today’s techno-crazed world, everyone is suffering from digital brain overload. Because of all the tweeting, texting, emailing and surfing we do on a daily, minute by minute basis, people are becoming more and more distracted and unable to focus. However, there is a simple solution to this problem—get outside more—and without your phones or any other “plugged in” devices.
Recent research by the Japanese have shown that the theory of being in nature (Forest Therapy) can actually lower blood pressure, fight off depression, beat back stress, improve cognitive thinking abilities and maybe even fight cancer. Japan’s scientists are measuring what’s actually happening to our cells and neurons by studying how green spaces soothe the body and brain. As you can imagine, there are some signs of nature deficit disorder that will prove you're spending too much time inside.
According to a recent survey, the average American spends at least eight hours a day looking at some sort of electronic device. Then we try to relax by watching TV or playing around on our phones even more. Studies have proven that this only makes us crabbier. Since the age of the Internet, Americans have become more aggressive, narcissistic, distracted, depressed, and less cognitively nimble.
And don’t think you’re off the hook if you exercise outdoors. You’re probably still checking your phone every couple of minutes! Sure, you get some mental and physical benefits, but evidence is mounting that to get the most out of nature, you really need to be present in it, not distracted by your own great story of self.
Since 2004, the Japanese have taken more than 600 people into the woods. They discovered that leisurely forest walks, (termed forest-bathing) compared to urban walks decreased blood pressure, heart rate and lowered the stress hormone called cortisol. The science is so convincing that other countries, including the United States, are following Japan’s lead by studying and promoting nature as medicine for our body and brain.
So if you are suffering from the distracting effects of digital brain overload, follow the Japanese. Step out into nature and take a nice, long walk in the woods without your phone or any other electronic devices. Who knows, you might just actually be able to relax for real this time!
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