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Birds, Nature Boost Health

By John Wallace

Distractions can be work enemy number one – even the ones that seem to be important! One obvious reason to try and avoid or prevent distractions while at work is to become the most efficient employee possible. However, there are other reasons. Distractions can also create stress and anxiety.

A short walk outside can do wonders for one’s state of mind. Fresh air, sunshine (vitamin D) and connecting with nature are great reasons to schedule a break during one’s workday. I was the editor of a newspaper about 20 years ago and stumbled upon this great tool for stress relief. I would go to the community college and feed the ducks at the pond. After just a few minutes I could feel the weight being lifted from my shoulders. A few deep breaths added to the sense of relief.

A recent study found that spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. The study is available at https://tinyurl.com/sttn2sbp.

A 2020 University of Exeter study, focused on nature’s impact on humans in suburban and urban areas, found lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of birds people saw during afternoons at home. The benefits of birdwatching come from seeing lots of birds – quantity not “quality” – the study found.

People “felt relaxed and connected to nature when they watched birds in their gardens,” researchers said. These feelings increased with the level of bird feeding in the yard. For millions working and schooling from home, this stress reduction was an unintended bonus.

In addition, an article on the American Psychological Association website quotes Lisa Nisbet, Ph.D., a psychologist at Trent University in Ontario, Canada on the matter.

“There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well­being,” says Nisbet, who studies connectedness to nature. “You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. And the sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature.”

Find out more at apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature.

Email your RAD IDEA to editor@mdpublishing.com.

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