You Spend 5 Percent of Your Day Outside. Try Making It More

You Spend 5 Percent of Your Day Outside. Try Making It More

click photo for more information
You Spend 5 Percent of Your Day Outside. Try Making It More
This storyoriginally appeared on Gristand is part of theClimate Deskcollaboration. For two decades, Florence Williams could sit on her porch at night and watch the alpenglow on the Rocky Mountains. Then she moved from remote Colorado to Washington, DC, and started noticing the changes. I felt disoriented, overwhelmed, depressed, she writes in her recent book, […]

This storyoriginally appeared on Gristand is part of theClimate Deskcollaboration.

For two decades, Florence Williams could sit on her porch at night and watch the alpenglow on the Rocky Mountains. Then she moved from remote Colorado to Washington, DC, and started noticing the changes.

I felt disoriented, overwhelmed, depressed, she writes in her recent book, The Nature Fix. My mind had trouble focusing. I couldnt finish thoughts and I wasnt keen to get out of bed.

Williams was suffering, she says, from nature withdrawal. She spent the next three years digging into the science of how nature works on our brains. In short, it makes us more relaxed, more creative, and more socially connected. She traveled to Japan and Finland, the deserts of Utah and the urban forests of Singapore, to study just how much we stand to gain by bring nature back into our lives.

At a time when more than half of all humans live in cities, the influence of the natural world is at a low ebb, while our understanding of its importance keeps growing. In a recent visit to the Grist offices, Williams talked about how writing this book led her to appreciate the role nature can play in our personal lives, not to mention our politics. (This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

So many writers and philosophers and scientists have evangelized for nature, but we still dont seek it out as much as we should. Why are we so bad at remembering that we actually like going outside?

The science has shown that, although we think we like nature, we undervalue how much it helps ushow good it makes us feel. Theres this vicious cycle: We dont spend enough time in nature to let us know how good it makes us feel, and then because we dont know how good it makes us feel we dont spend enough time in nature.

Do people in other countries have a different relationship to nature?

I spent a lot of time in Northern Europe, especially Scandinavia. I think in a lot of those places, the stress aspect is at the forefront. Scientists and the medical community are working really hard on preventative medicine: how to prevent depression and suicide, obesity, chronic disease. Well-being, especially mental health, is the priority for them.

Whereas, in the United States, I think theres more of an interest in the opposite: Be more productive, more efficient, more creative.

The book opens with you in a national park when your phone beepsnot exactly a scene out of Walden Pond. Why arent you telling people to ditch their devices like a nature purist would?

I am a member of Generation X, so I do like my technology. And Im a realist: Im not going to tell people to throw their phones over a waterfall.

Cellphones enable a whole new way to gather data. I open The Nature Fix talking about an app called Mappiness; its part of a big data grab by a British economist to get millions of points of data about where people are during their days and how they feel about where they are.

It was a revealing exercise for me. I thought I got outside a fair amount. But my app only found me outside 7 percent of the time. It turns out thats about the national averagewe tend to be outside for about 5 percent of our day. And that includes, like, walking to the bus stop. Its not quality time outside.

So it really brought home this epic dislocation were living in: We dont recognize how happy nature makes us. We think shopping makes us happy, or streaming Netflix, eating ice creamand those things do make us happy, but we get a tremendous boost from being outside in a natural environment.

Some of the people you write about are studying how to get the benefits of naturestrapping on a virtual reality headset or painting everything greenwithout actually going into nature. Do you find that troubling?

I understand the drive to provide nature to people who cant get to it on their own. However, I think if we make it too easy to never leave your couch, then thats a problem. All of our senses interact with nature. Theres no way that virtual reality is, at this point, ticking all the boxes.

There seems to be a dose curve for nature: For the most part, the more time you spend in a nature environment, the better youre going to feel.

If its a potted plant and thats all you can get from your deskgreat. Look at it every once in a while, look at the view out your window. But if you can actually sit outside in your backyard and hear the birdsong and feel the grass in your toesand occasionally go off into the deep wildernessI think some really profound things can start to happen to your brain, and to your worldview.

In Washington, DC, your home base, tree cover has declined from roughly 50 percent of the city in 1950 to 36 percent today. Can we blame any of the problems in our nations capital on the lack of trees?

Yeah, I want to start a campaign to bring potted plants into Congress. [laughs]

I think all those congressional leaders need to go on a little field trip. I once interviewed the Obama White House Chief of Staff, Dennis McDonaugh, who said some of his most productive meetings with Republican leaders took place on bike rides in Virginia. So theres definitely something to the social connections that get forged when youre outside and participating in a common endeavor.

I was lucky to grow up close to Central Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. People understand now that he was sort of a genius when it came to spatial organization: where to put trees and paths and bridges and boulders. Whats less known about him is how prescient he was in understanding the connections between green space and democracy. He really believed that parks were necessary for the mental health of everyone in cities, all walks of life, and that parks could provide this great experimental space for the melting pot that we are.

He also advocated National Parks and public lands for the same reasons. So I think its particularly poignant and timely that now, when democracy feels threatened, public lands are also perhaps threatened.

How can we keep up our time in nature without moving to an isolated, sprawling, suburb?

I wanted to visit the future, so I went to Singapore. Thats the third densest country on the planet. Were already at the halfway point of more people living in cities than not living in them. Two billion more people will live in cities by 2030. And when you get to Singapore, its high rise upon high rise upon high rise. Yet, in the last 15 years, the green cover in Singapore has increased from 35 percent to 50 percent, despite two million more residents, because they have really prioritized integrating nature into the urban fabric.

The buildings thereand this is where you really need good planners and good architectsincorporate vertical gardens into residential towers, offices. I think our institutions need to take this on, especially schools. Where I live, only 10 percent of kids get the recommended recess time. Which is appalling, because we know that kids need this time to run around and have exploratory free play in order to just pay attention later in the day.

Kids in Finland, who have the highest test scores in the world, get 15 minutes of recess for every 45 minutes of class time. And the teachers are like, well, duh, of course we do that. Because otherwise the kids cant pay attention and cant sit still. Yet when you talk about why Finland has these test scores, that almost never gets raised.

Were living in the largest mass migration in history, the movement to cities. At the same time, its the movement indoorsand that has these tremendous public health consequences that were just beginning to understand.

Whats your best piece of advice?

If you have kids, the most important thing you can do is get your kids outside often enough to develop their love for nature. You will be giving them a gift they will have their entire lives.

In terms of yourself, similar advice: Go outside more often than you think you want to! You will reap the rewards in increased mood, increased social connection in your relationships. But I wouldnt beat yourself up if you cant do it all the time. Just be open to understanding there are times in your life you might need this connection more than other times. I think that especially if youre struggling with depression, or youre struggling with grief, consider the natural world as one of your interventions.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/2017/03/spend-5-percent-day-outside/

Nostalgic Flashback Of 1969 High School Fashionistas

click photo for more information
Nostalgic Flashback Of 1969 High School Fashionistas
In October 1969, students and young adults alike were “living the dream.” This new era, the era of hippies, freedom, and love, brought them a “release,” even in the fashion sense. Gone were the days of stuffy clothing and repressed style. In 1969, LIFE magazine stated, “The latest rule in girls’ high school fashion is […]

Can’t take off for the Women’s Strike? Here are 21 ways to show your support.

click photo for more information
Can’t take off for the Women’s Strike? Here are 21 ways to show your support.
On March 8, 2017, A Day Without a Woman, an international women’s strike will take place. In the spirit of the highly successful Women’s March on Jan. 21, the International Women’s Strike was organized to raise awareness of the seen and unseen ways women and girls contribute to the economy, all while receiving lower wages, […]

Latest updates: Shooting at Munich shopping centre: German police

click photo for more information
Latest updates: Shooting at Munich shopping centre: German police
Several people were killed on Friday in a shooting rampage by a lone gunman in a Munich shopping centre, police said. The newspaper reported that the gunman ran through the mall near the Olympic s Read more: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/latest-updates-shooting-at-munich-shopping-centre-german-police/article8887646.ece?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

Bill Maher Blasts Leaked Trump Tape: Making Sexual Assault Great Again

click photo for more information
Bill Maher Blasts Leaked Trump Tape: Making Sexual Assault Great Again
The Real Time host unloaded on the Republican presidential candidate for his claim that, because he was famous, he could grab them by the pussy. “> On Friday evening, The Washington Post released their October Surpriseand it came from a very unlikely source. The paper released a video of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who […]

Just getting a little shopping in!

click photo for more information
Just getting a little shopping in!
Read more: http://imgur.com/gallery/oMd8aEB

Nirvanas Nevermind Turns 25: How Kurt Cobain and Co. Created the Album That Defined the 90s

click photo for more information
Nirvanas Nevermind Turns 25: How Kurt Cobain and Co. Created the Album That Defined the 90s
On Sept. 24, 1991, three scuzzy rockers released their sophomore album. And the world was never the same. “> Nirvana is easily the most mythologized rock band of the last 30 years. Even casual music fans can recite the CliffsNotes version of why Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl are important. From igniting a […]

Here’s What Kurt Vonnegut Can Teach You About Life

click photo for more information
Here’s What Kurt Vonnegut Can Teach You About Life
1. It’s important to stand up for what you believe in. After hearing that his book was not only banned, but burned in a school’s furnace, Vonnegut wrote a personalized letter to the head of the school board, stating, “If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you […]

Christmas Music Could Harm Your Mental Health

click photo for more information
Christmas Music Could Harm Your Mental Health
You might want to put the Christmas decorations down for a second, and unwrap some presents, because there’s a new warning that Christmas music could be bad for your mental health. That’s right, if you’re in the mood to hum along to Mariah Carey’s Christmas jingles, it might be best to leave the high notes […]

Son Tries To Convince Mom To Buy Maxi Pads (Video)

click photo for more information
Son Tries To Convince Mom To Buy Maxi Pads (Video)
Son Tries To Convince Mom To Buy Maxi Pads (Video) Son, can you not? via Ebony Clark Read more: http://dailypicksandflicks.com/2015/10/19/son-tries-to-convince-mom-to-buy-maxi-pads-video/

Is This Porn? 5 Realities Inside A Strange New Art Form

click photo for more information
Is This Porn? 5 Realities Inside A Strange New Art Form
While browsing YouTube, you’ll occasionally run into a strangely popular video of a person, usually a young lady, doing nothing but making soft noises into a microphone. They might be whispering seemingly random conversations, quietly reading, crinkling paper and plastic, eating chips and other crunchy snacks, coloring, or otherwise making soft scratchy sounds. There are, […]

5 Parts Of Small Town Life That We Swear To God Are Real

click photo for more information
5 Parts Of Small Town Life That We Swear To God Are Real
Last week I was on a pretty well-received double podcast, talking about what it’s like growing up in a small town. Like most small town stories, the longer we talked, the weirder it got … and even after the recording, I realized that these areas have a lot more strange traits that sound like the […]

Heres How The Internet Reacted To Prada Releasing A Paperclip For $185 (10+ Pics)

click photo for more information
Heres How The Internet Reacted To Prada Releasing A Paperclip For $185 (10+ Pics)
Yes. That’s right. A paper clip for the bargain price of $185. It’s made from sterling silver and, unlike normal boring paper clips that only hold documents together, this one holds your money, or whatever money you have left over after buying one of them. Sounds awesome, right? Well, not according to the internet, because […]

Girl Bumps Into Boy in Mall Playground

click photo for more information
Girl Bumps Into Boy in Mall Playground
While a father and his daughter played around in an indoor shopping mall playground, the little girl wanted to jump from a high platform. The girl was hesitant at first but her father encouraged her to jump. As soon as she got the courage to jump, she accidentally bumped into a little boy on the […]

Man Receives Tumor Instead Of The Kindle He Ordered

click photo for more information
Man Receives Tumor Instead Of The Kindle He Ordered
A British man received quite a shock when the courier service thatwas supposed to be delivering a Kindle to his address sent him a package containing a tumor tissue sample from Americainstead. The sample was supposed to be sent to the Royal Free Hospital in London, yet somehow ended up in Bristol at the home […]

NASA Is Celebrating A Very Different Type Of “Black” Friday Today

click photo for more information
NASA Is Celebrating A Very Different Type Of “Black” Friday Today
Most of you are probably snapping up deals in Black Friday sales today. But we’ve got something even better – Black Hole Friday! Yes, today NASA is celebrating its fifth annual Black Hole Friday, where instead of subjecting you to endless shopping deals, it’s treating you to a whole host of facts about black holes. […]
load more posts