I’ve always felt that going to the woods or the ocean helped to bring me back to center when I’m feeling spun out.
You know how that day-to-day noise and activity gets us all frazzled and stressed? Well, when I feel that way I just want to go off into the woods and commune with the trees, and stuff like that.
I’ve always attributed it to the fact that I’m a hippie, I was raised by a hippie, my parents got married in the woods, and I lived in Guerneville for a year as a child. Obviously, I’m predisposed to like the woods.
That’s still true, of course, but it’s more than that, too.
Apparently, going into nature gives our prefrontal cortices a rest because we are attracted to gentle stimuli that occur in nature, without exerting our brains. When we’re in an urban environment we are both compelled to attend to extreme stimuli and required to force ourselves to attend to minute details in order to get through the day.
What that means is that we can’t ignore the TV-screen billboards and ads on gas pumps and we musn’t ignore people walking down the street or cars driving by, lest we get smooshed.
That’s tiring, you know?
So, when we go into an environment where the stimuli are intriguing but low-key, our brains get a bit of a rest.
(Ahhh, birdsong and butterflies, rainbows and sunsets…)
Don’t take my word for it, you can read more about it from an actual science guy here. (I’m just a science enthusiast.)
So, get out there and take a hike!
Oh, and let’s save those natural places, shall we? That way we’ll always have a way to rest our brains from the ever increasing pace of life.