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9 August 2019

posted 8 Aug 2019, 16:08 by Carolyn Brett
Talking about the weather always seems like a last resort……. but I will anyway! It's been rather good of late but, for the purposes of this, please let's visualise a typical 'unpleasant day'!

For many of us, when it’s colder, wetter, windier, it makes it just that much harder to venture outside. In the Summer term, some of the staff and I were pretty well dedicated to going out for a quick blast around the block before meetings or over lunch, if we could. Speaking for myself….. it’s been more of a rarity since April. But….. I’m bringing it back! After reading a recent blog post about the importance of spending time in nature or, as it was stated, taking a ‘nature pill’, I have approached Term 3 with more focused attention on making time.

".........Research over the last 30 years has demonstrated that connectedness and exposure to nature is linked to a range of mental and physical health benefits including:
  • increased positive emotion, vitality, and life satisfaction;
  • pain and faster hospital recovery;
  • stronger feelings of connectedness with others, greater sense of community, lower levels of violence and aggression, and a better capacity to cope with life’s demands.
However, whilst all of this is great – we are busy. We have students to teach, and families to look after, and meals to cook, and reports to write. How much nature do we actually need?

A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan has helped to answer this question. They found that taking a “nature-pill” involving spending 20 minutes in a “place that brings a sense of contact with nature” was enough to significantly reduce stress hormones in saliva samples. On average, participants who were exposed to between 20 and 30 minutes of nature, had their blood cortisol levels reduced by 18.5%.
 
Whilst the researchers acknowledge that age, baseline stress level, socioeconomic factors and lifestyle factors all modulate the effect of nature, there is significant potential benefit for all of us." (Excerpt From David Bott, Institute of Positive Education.)


So, I’m thinking how we need to keep this part of our curriculum programmes too, escaping the confines of inside and getting down that bush track, running on that beach, breathing it all in, noticing the colours and sounds before getting back up that hill and getting back down to some inside learning. 

This great article was circulated amongst the staff just last week. 'It’s a superpower’: how walking makes us healthier, happier and brainier Neuroscientist Shane O'Mara believes that plenty of regular walking unlocks the cognitive powers of the brain like nothing else. I recommend a read.

Funnily enough, I have noticed a few more 'walking meetings' being brought back since!

How about a whānau 'nature pill' this weekend?
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