Team building away days give colleagues the chance to interact with each other in a more relaxed environment and are a fantastic way to reward everyone after a busy and successful year.
But did you know that nature has been proven to alleviate the stresses of modern life? For many years the Japanese have been practicing the art of Shirin-yoko or Forest bathing in the belief that time in the forest is relaxing and healing.
Scientific research proves that time in nature reduces stress.
For the first time ever, researchers have conducted a study on the most effective dose of a nature experience to counteract the effects of modern stress. The study led by Dr. Mary Carol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and published in Frontiers in Psychology has recommended that healthcare practitioners use their findings to prescribe ‘nature pills’ to over stressed patients with the knowledge that they have a real, tried and tested effect.
So what is a ‘nature pill’? The findings revealed that a 20-minute nature experience, such as walking or sitting in a woodland, forest or park, was enough to significantly reduce a persons cortisol levels. The data showed that spending a little longer, 20 to 30 minutes, allowed cortisol levels to drop at their greatest rate. After that, additional de-stressing benefits continued to add up at a slower rate.
“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” explained Dr. Hunter, the lead author of the research.
Pressure on workers can lead to permanent damage.
We live in a culture where excessive work is overvalued and work addiction is the norm. We are often taught that in order to succeed, “you need to continually be getting things done and moving on to the next goal as quickly as possible,” Seppälä, a Stanford psychologist and science director of Stanford’s Center For Compassion and Altruism Research, notes in “The Happiness Track. ”
What is considered a good thing has the potential to harm our health significantly, and permanently. Because of this cultural pressure, even businesses who put employee wellbeing at the forefront of their agenda must take an active role, ensuring that their staff are managing their wellbeing. Competitive environments, pressure to do more faster and the inability to shut off in the evening, due to the ever present smart phone, leaves people open to the effects of chronic stress such as:
Proneness to illness and chronic infections
High blood pressure
Increased susceptibility to diabetes and cancer
Muscular skeletal problems